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Photo from Ben-Gurion University website
Dr. Leavitt. 'I instill liberal values'
Photo from Ben-Gurion University website
University dismisses lecturer over anti-gay remark
Ben-Gurion University cancels bioethics course after Dr. Yeruham Leavitt says children of same-sex couples deprived of 'normal' upbringing. Lecturer: Personal opinions allowed in ethics courses

A bioethics course taught by Dr. Yeruham Leavitt at Ben-Gurion University was canceled after he implied that homosexuality was a flaw that could be "contained", Ynet learned Sunday. 

 

Leavitt, a professor emeritus and a resident of the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, has been teaching the course to students at the Clinical Pharmacology Department for years. About a month ago he received a letter saying the course had been cancelled due to a "hurtful and inappropriate" remark he made in class.

 

During a discussion on artificial insemination among same-sex couples, a female student said children of gay parents may be influenced by their parents' sexual inclination. Another student, a homosexual, took offense to the comment and said clinical research has shown children of same-sex couples develop normally.

 

The student said sexual tendencies are not a matter of choice, but Leavitt claimed same-sex couples may harm children who are uncertain of their sexual preferences and deprive them of a "normal" family life.

 

According to the lecturer, sexual inclination can be chosen and contained. "Take me for example. I'm attracted to all women – but I contain myself," he said. "So can homosexuals."

 

Some students who were offended by the remarks complained to the university's faculty committee, which summoned Leavitt. During the hearing, the lecturer admitted to making the remarks and said they had been understood correctly by his students.

 

Leavitt claimed it was acceptable to voice personal opinions during ethics courses.

 

Ynet obtained a letter in which Prof. Riad Agbaria, head of the Clinical Pharmacology Department, confirmed that Leavitt's contract has been terminated.

 

"There is no room for personal opinions that offend some of the students," the letter read.

 

The faculty committee decided to cancel the course.

 

Dr. Leavitt told Ynet, "My embarrassing dismissal from Ben-Gurion University constitutes a severe violation of basic rights, including the right to dignity, academic freedom and freedom of expression."

 

The lecturer, who said the affair hurt his reputation, added, "I have nothing against the gay and lesbian community. Moreover, during my many years at the university I have always instilled the values of tolerance and liberalism."

 

Leavitt called the administrative procedure that lead to his dismissal "undemocratic" and "inappropriate."

 

The university said in a statement, "The lecturer made a categorical comment on the homosexuality phenomenon. During his hearing, (Leavitt) did not apologize for his offensive comments and even repeated them.

 

"Ben-Gurion University sanctifies freedom of thought and expression, but the lecturer blatantly crossed the line," the statement read.

 

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