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LQD: Liberal Sex-ed

by NordicStorm Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 12:11:14 PM EST

The Swedish Liberal People's Party, part of the current Swedish centre-right government, have proposed modifying school legislation with regards to student exemption in Swedish schools (party chairman Jan Björklund is the current Minister of Education). Under the current law, students may be exempt from certain subjects, which would otherwise be compulsory, on cultural or religious grounds. This has apparently become a bit of problem in Swedish immigrant communities, as a large number of pupils exempt themselves from a variety of subjects, but mostly physical education and sexual education, citing religion or culture.

Excerpts from an op-ed in the March 6 edition of Swedish morning paper Dagens Nyheter:

"Tvinga invandrarflickor att delta i sexundervisning""Force immigrant girls to participate in sexual education"
Nytt förslag från Björklund och Sabuni: avskaffa rätten till befrielse från idrottstimmar och sex- och samlevnadsundervisning i skolan.
Rätten till befrielse från olika lektioner i skolan av religiösa och kulturella skäl eller på grund av elevens inställning eller hemmiljö ska helt avskaffas enligt ett folkpartiförslag som läggs fram i dag. Det är orimligt att den regel om befrielse från obligatorisk undervisning som var tänkt för undantagsfall innebär att mer än var fjärde utlandsfödd flicka inte deltar i viktiga undervisningsmoment i skolan. Att föräldrar har en annan åsikt än läroplanen om vad barnen ska lära sig innebär inte att de ska kunna förvägra eleverna viss undervisning, skriver utbildningsministern och folkpartiledaren Jan Björklund, integrationsminister Nyamko Sabuni och folkpartiets partisekreterare Erik Ullenhag.
New proposal from Björklund and Sabuni: repeal the right to exemption from physical education and sex and social education.
The right to exemption from some classes in school on the basis of religious or cultural reasons or the pupil's attitude or home situation should be completely repealed, according to a proposal by the Liberal People's party that will be put forth today. It is unreasonable that the exemption rule, which was supposed to be used only in exceptional circumstances, results in more than every fourth foreign-born girl not participating in important educational subjects in school. That parents have disagreements with the school curriculum should not mean that they can deny the pupils certain education, writes Education Minister and Liberal People's Party chairman Jan Björklund, Intergration Minister Nyamko Sabuni and Liberal People's Party secretary Erik Ullenhag.
Men migrationen ställer oss också inför nya utmaningar. Många invandrare har svårt att komma in i Sverige, att bli integrerade.But migration also poses new challenges for us. Many immigrants have difficulty entering Swedish society and becoming integrated.
Felaktiga politiska beslut och attityder, inte minst en socialdemokratisk mentalitet av omhändertagande, har försvårat integrationen.
Några av de svårare och mest kontroversiella utmaningarna handlar i realiteten om kulturkonflikter. Hur agerar vi när toleransen och det mångkulturella samhället kommer i konflikt med till exempel individens frihet och en jämställd och modern kvinnosyn?
Erroneous political decisions and attitudes, not least a social democrat mentality of "taking care of", has made integration more difficult. Some of the hardest and most controversial challenges concerns, in reality, cultural conflicts. How do we act when tolerance and the multicultural society stands in conflict with for example the freedom of the individual and an equal and modern view of women?
Vår tro på det toleranta samhället får aldrig medföra att vi blundar när kvinnor drabbas av övergrepp, eller förvägras rättigheter, under åberopande att det skulle vara del av en kultur eller religion. Our faith in the tolerant society may never result in us averting our eyes when women are victims of injustice or are denied rights as a result of it being considered part of a culture or a religion.
27 procent, mer än var fjärde utlandsfödd flicka får inte delta i undervisning i idrott, simning eller sexualkunskap, alternativt inte vara med på klassresor eller studiebesök. 27%, more than every fourth foreign-born girl, aren't allowed to participate in physical education, swimming or sexual education, or aren't allowed to participate in class trips or educational visits.
Flickor med sitt ursprung i Mellanöstern befrias ungefär fem gånger så ofta som invandrarflickor födda i Syd- eller Östeuropa. Samma undersökning visar också att befrielse är vanligare om föräldrarna har en låg utbildningsnivå. Inte så förvånande är också att graden av befrielse är högre om föräldrarna har en stark religiös övertygelse.Girls originating from the Middle-East are exempt approximately five times more often than immigrant girls born in Southern or Eastern Europe. The same research indicates that exemption is more common if the parents have a low level of education. Not particularly surprising is also the fact the degree of exemption is higher if the parents have strong religious convictions.

(Translation mine. Hopefully the quoted text, while still quite long, is within the confines of fair use).

The irony of a supposedly liberal party proposing to "force" anyone to do anything notwithstanding, I find myself agreeing with the gist of the proposal, if not with the Swedish liberals' near-perverted obsession with Islam. I know exactly what I would be thinking if a parent decided to keep his or her child from attending biology classes, due to a fervent belief in Creationism. Sex-ed, if awkward to some, is obviously crucial in reducing teenage pregnancies, preventing the spread of STDs, and generally promoting a healthy outlook on sexuality.
Missing from the op-ed is perhaps a bit of context. Is it the sexual or physical education itself that the parents are objecting to, or is it something specific in those subjects that could be done differently?

It's also interesting to note that it was due to the school subject "Knowledge in Christianity", a subject that was taught in Swedish schools until 1969 and had a decidedly religious perspective, that the exemption rule was first introduced, so that pupils of a different religious conviction didn't have to attend.

One potential problem in getting rid of these exemptions might be that religious conservative parents might hinder their kids from attending said classes anyway, which would ultimately impact the kids' grades. I'm not familiar with what mechanisms, if any, there are in Swedish schools to enforce attendance.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 03:11:16 PM EST
If not, we should change our laws. The French ones seem a bit harsh, but...

First, take some of the parents money. If they keep obstructing, take all their money. If they still refuse, send them to jail and put their children in foster families, as they have obviously failed as parents.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 10:41:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Elementary school is mandatory and theoretically the police can pick up the child and pyhsically transport him or her to school. Seldom happens though.

In practice, schools are to report to social services if kids don't show up. If parents insist on keeping their children out of school there is a possibility of foster care. Do not know how often that happens.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 11:18:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, as usual the police don't do their jobs and the social service people are absolutely useless.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 12:45:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to agree with it in general also, but there are different parts:

Religion should not even be included in the curriculum and be he held totally outside the schools because it is private and personal.  Let the parents and religions take all responsibility for that teaching and spending.

Phys Ed is a necessary rounding in education and the exemption should be for health reasons only.  It´s hard to imagine any negative effects of healthy group exercise, performing as well, or as clumsily as the rest.

Sex Ed should not be optional in the 21st century, whether it is part of biology, or by itself.

The current right wing battle in Spain is against the newly approved ´Civics´ course.  The PP and the bishops are against it because ´it´s not moral´:  it teaches tolerance to different sexualities, family types, etc.  I wish it were mandatory for everyone in the country.  Retroactively.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 04:15:15 PM EST
I'm generally okay with religion being taught as a subject in school, so long as it is not an indoctrination in the faith. That is, you learn the following:
  • What is religion? Why is there religion? Why do people believe?
  • The history and current state of the major faiths in the world
  • The role and relevance of religion in modern society

That is, largely what we have in Finnish schools today. Certainly one could argue that much of this could be covered by other school subjects (history, philosophy, psychology). At any rate, it's imperative that you're not being told what to think and that you're being encouraged to think for yourself.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 05:46:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We're talking about the teaching of "Catholic Religion and Morals" as part of the national curriculum. That's the fight.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 05:52:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well now, that, on the other hand, is fodder for Sunday school.
How much of chance is there that the right-wingers will be successful in introducing it?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 06:24:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact is on whether they get to keep it, and on whether the government gets to introduce "education for citizenship".

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 06:43:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aah. So an uphill battle then?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 07:05:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do I put it? The other side didn't fight a Crusade for it to come to this.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 05:56:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It really depends on what the possible implications for the pupils involved are. Of course they ought to be learning about sex, and also taking part in the physical education lessons also. But it has already been mentioned that the parents may prevent their children from attending these lessons regardless of the legality. Such a move would simply end up with angry parents, and pupils with contempt for the educational system, but no extra participation happening.

A worse scenario, and I don't know if this is entirely possible, would be the removal of the children from the state education system. Either through the establishment of independent schools which cater to their religious need, or through a growth in home-schooling. This division or partition of certain sections of the community from mixing with another would be a disasterous outcome, and probably not worth forcing the issue over.

PS: What does LQD mean? I keep seeing it everywhere, and feel I must ask, cause I can't figure it out.

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.

by Ephemera on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 04:55:25 PM EST
Lazy Quote Diary.

ie more than a Comment, but less than a "Full Strength" Diary!

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 05:32:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.
by Ephemera on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 05:36:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are actually religious private schools in Sweden (insert gasps of horror here), but they're strictly regulated. They must have the same curriculum as the state-run schools, and all religious activity must be extra-curricular. I have a profound dislike for the concept altogether, but there it is.

I know school attendance is a bit of a problem with the Roma minority in Finland (and I suspect in Sweden), which obviously is a huge obstacle to being integrated in society.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 05:53:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Religious private schools (which we do have in Spain) are fine in my book, as long as they don't get State support. State-supported private schools should be secular, and they are.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 05:58:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aah, but Swedish private schools, religious or otherwise, do receive financial support from the municipality in which they operate.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 06:10:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They should be banned. Here in Uppsala we have some semi-crazy to fully-crazy religious schools, both of the islamist variety and of the christian sect variety. Ban the lot of them.

Anti-clerical, who, me?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 10:40:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Sweden we have three kinds of schools:

Public funded, public run
Public funded, private run
Private funded, private run (at least I think they exist...)

The public funded, private run (friskola) are essentially held to the same rules as the public schools. They have to teach the same curriculum and they are not allowed to have fees in addition to the public funds.

They are a minor component, IIRC more then 90% goes to public run schools, and as a share of the private run, the religious are about 10%. So we are talking about 1% of the students.

Surely some of the religious schools will from time to time let their fervor shine through in the education. It will not be condoned, their funding will be put in jeopardy, and it will cause media debate.

I do not really see this as a problem, and not cause for limitation of the profiles allowed to private run schools. If limited I believe we would see cover organisations spring up - the jewish schools will get an hebreic profile instead. And so on.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 11:26:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Those were among the arguments against forbidding the veil in France, too. But actually, only very few families dare to go against the law ; only a few dozen girls are recorded as having stopped school because of the veil law, I think, and they are beyond compulsory school age.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 06:03:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are reasons. The French judicial arsenal is pretty hardcore with failing parents and tutors : section 227 of the Code Pénal.

A general passive endangerment (article 227-17) is worth 2 years in jail and the failure to provide for education alone fetches six months (article 227-17-1), also applicable to moral persons and to other physical persons like the director of an non-habilitated school, not just the parents or tutors.

I don't know how often those dispositions are actually prosecuted but I'd think they are plenty enough to calm down most religious zealots and any enabler.

by Francois in Paris on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:52:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some good French inspiration there.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 10:37:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interestingly enough, some of the articles in the Code Pénal were enacted as a protection of children against the various sects.

It is rather fitting that a law aimed at sects should be used against fundamentalists of all sorts.

by balbuz on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 02:15:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
lazy quote diary, ephemera

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 06:36:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we've got a fair bit of experience with the physical education question here.

The secondary schools, where PE has always been mostly single-sex, have simply adapted their required PE uniform to meet Muslim standards of modesty.

In practice, this means that short-skirts-with-matching-knickers are out, and tracksuit bottoms in.

As mother to a teenage girl, I'd count this as a positive result all round.  There was a report recently (which I now can't find) that concluded that girls of all ethnicities are far more likely to turn up for sport if they're allowed to wear comfortable and non-embarrassing clothes.  Well, duh.  

by Sassafras on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 07:36:08 AM EST
As often with the though on immigrants policies of the illiberal party, I do not see this working. Instead of the schools and society knowing there is a conflict, it will instead get a lower degree of attendance or kids will be put in religious schools instead.

But hey, looking though on immigrants has payed of before!

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 11:36:26 AM EST
be what your SLPP has in mind, but if the net result is solidarity with giving girls and young women the information they need to make sound, independant decisions unhindered by the men in their immediate families, that's a good thing.

Variation on the theme of the veil in school and public institutions; it's ultimately an equality issue, with indivual rights of the women taking precedence over the collective rights of the minority community in which she, as a young woman, likely has no real choice but to belong to.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 10:28:29 PM EST
folket.se March 8, 2008 - "Tvinga inte flickor att delta i sexundervisning" "Don't force girls to participate in sexual education"
Det strider mot deras uppfattning, i alla fall när lektionerna i dessa ämnen sker blandat med både pojkar och flickor, säger Abdirizak Hussein.
Hur ska man då lösa problemet?
- Definitivt inte genom tvång, det vore helt fel. I stället behöver det skapas en bättre dialog mellan skolan, föräldrarna och eleverna. Ett sätt vore att ha speciella tjejgrupper när det gäller just sex- och gymnastikundervisning. Så fungerar det i vissa friskolor.
It contradicts their beliefs, at least when classes in these subjects occur in groups with both boys and girls, says Abidirizak Hussein.
How should we then solve the problem?
- Definitely not by force, that would be completely wrong. Instead we need to create a better dialogue between the school, the parents and the students. One way would be to have separate girl groups when it comes to sex and physical education. That's how it works in some private schools.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Mar 25th, 2008 at 01:05:50 PM EST
Of course, with "dialogue" they mean appeasement.

The issue is very simple. Follow the law or go to jail. If you don't like the laws, you don't have to move here.

No one is forcing anyone into anything. These people are perfectly free to leave.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Mar 26th, 2008 at 07:29:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing as it isn't law yet, maybe it's a bit premature to be telling people to "love it or leave it".

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Mar 26th, 2008 at 11:00:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For an other view to the problem (via PZM), this weekend in Wisconsin :

Police: Family prayed instead of getting medical aid for girl who died
WESTON -- An 11-year-old girl died after her parents prayed for healing rather than seek medical help for a treatable form of diabetes, police said Tuesday.

Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said Madeline Neumann died Sunday.

"She got sicker and sicker until she was dead," he said.

Vergin said an autopsy determined the girl died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body, and she had probably been ill for about 30 days, suffering symptoms like nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness.

The girl's parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, attributed the death to "apparently they didn't have enough faith," the police chief said.


"They are still in the home," he said. "There is no reason to remove them. There is no abuse or signs of abuse that we can see."

The girl's death remains under investigation and the findings will be forwarded to the district attorney to review for possible charges, the chief said.

There probably won't be much to prosecute as Wisconsin law provides for the following:
S 948.03(6) : Treatment through prayer. A person is not guilty of an offense under this section solely because he or she provides a child with treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone for healing in accordance with the religious method of healing permitted under s. 48.981 (3) (c) 4. or 448.03 (6) in lieu of medical or surgical treatment.

by Francois in Paris on Thu Mar 27th, 2008 at 12:49:47 AM EST
Certainly religion must not be an excuse to avoid sexual education.

In fact, let us just not end here. Sexual education should exist in priesthood school and, more importantly, religions who deny their priests the right to a normal sexuality should lose and privileges, namely the right to own or use mass communication media or special tax regimes. Including same-sex partnerships.
Zoophilia could acceptable in certain cases, such as doves or lambs to Christian priests (or nuns).

It is not only little children whose rights are being denied. We must end medieval tortures such as the imposition of chastity on priesthood.

Hmmm, that's funny, now that i think about, i don't remember ever seeing a list on my local church of all Jewish people condemned to the death by fire in past centuries; as for the Muslims, they even didn't bother to record their names. They should cover the walls with those names. Even the cross. Now that would be tolerance.

Nothing that i may say here can be as surreal as the acceptance of the history of pain imposed on our fellow man, generation after generation, by those who lost their humanity on their vassalage to a god, or gods, who probably could not even make a good soup.

My area of the world was devastated. F'ked up. Seven hundred fifty and something years ago, five hundred and something years ago, and a little bit every year, every moment happiness was denied to someone.

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Fri Mar 28th, 2008 at 01:42:32 AM EST
And, incidentally, people were forbidden to kiss in public just thirty-five years ago.
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Fri Mar 28th, 2008 at 02:06:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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