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Shulamit Elisheva Izen, “Tikun Repairing,” School Spotlight, 2001

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Level: HIgh School and above

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More of this TYPE: News Articles

More of this TIME PERIOD: 1950-2000

More on these TOPICS: Health, Education & Welfare, Jewish Values & Practices, Women’s Activism & Rights


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Carolyn Laub founded the GSA Network in 1998 to empower youth activists to start Gay-Straight Alliance clubs and fight homophobia in schools. The GSA Network began working with 50 Gay-Straight Alliances at high schools throughout the 9-county San Francisco Bay Area during the 1998-99 school year. Its strategy for fighting homophobia in schools is to work with grassroots, youth-led groups. The intention is to empower students to educate their school communities and advocate for just policies that protect lesbian/gay/bi-sexual/trans-sexual/queer youth from harassment and violence.

For public schools, inclusion of gay students in school life reflects an uneasy tension in a society increasingly divided between those who are open to alternative lifestyles and those who seek to restrict what they perceive to be abnormal. In parochial schools, the issues become even more complex. The Bible states, “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is wickedness.” (Leviticus 18:22) Liberal strands of Christianity and Judaism understand this condemnation as a historical construction and accept and embrace the reality of varied sexual orientations. Those who are more fundamentalist in their religious beliefs do not.

Shulamit Izen, the author of this article, was a student in a Jewish high school in suburban Boston. The students in her school come from all movements within Judaism. With the support of her school and her rabbi, she created the first Gay Straight Alliance in a Jewish day school in the United States.

The struggle to accept gays is one that continues in the United States and reflects a society that professes to be open, yet in reality is quite discriminatory. For example, while the New York Times has begun to include same-sex partnerships in its section on wedding announcements (retitled “Celebrations”), Vermont remains the only state that officially sanctions such unions.

For more on Izen and her activism, go to JWA’s Women Who Dared exhibit at

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1. What evidence do you have that the author is a religious person?

2. Where has the author’s journey taken her?

3. What obstacles has Izen faced? Do you believe she has any ahead of her?

4. What role does community play in both Izen’s problem and the solution to it?

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Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - News Articles - Editorial on Behalf of Gay Rights." <>.