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Teacher faces probe for organizing mixed-gender forest walk for students

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The administration of a prestigious high school in İstanbul has launched an investigation into a teacher for organizing a walk in the woods with the participation of both male and female students, the Gerçek Gündem news website reported.

Gülay Hacısalihoğlu, the principal of the Beyoğlu Anatolian High School, initiated the investigation into teacher Engin Ulus for organizing a mixed-gender walk in the Bentler Nature Park in İstanbul on Oct. 23, Gerçek Gündem said.

According to the report, Gülay Hacısalihoğlu is the wife of Yeni Yüzyıl University rector Yaşar Hacısalihoğlu, known for his close relations to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

After serving as an all-girls high school since its inception, the 172-year-old institution switched to mixed-gender education in 2002. Despite protests from students, it became an all-girls high school again in 2016.

Ulus explained on Twitter that among the attendees of the event were current students as well as graduates who are currently at university, among them, boys.

“Why wouldn’t an administration want there to be a bond between the graduates of their school and the current students, for the graduates to act as if they were their brothers and sisters and inspire them, for ties between graduates and students to grow and for young people who have shared the same high school desks to have common memories?” the teacher said.

“Give up your reactionary practices,” the women’s branch of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) tweeted on Tuesday.

Gender-segregated institutions are widely criticized in Turkey for paving the way for unhealthy relationships and further isolation of women in society by supporting traditional gender roles and creating the image that the two genders cannot work or study together.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly said he sees gender equality as contradictory to the nature of men and women.

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