Monday, September 1, 2008

Norway:Debate About Segregated Swimming Classes

Hopefully this debate will put an end to the gender segregated gym and swim classes there, that were put into place to appease Muslims. Because if this type of catering does not end, eventually Muslims will be asking for all classes to be gender segregated. When they are done restructuring the schools their next target will be to stop allowing men and women being together in public, unless they are family. The people who are constantly catering to Muslims, need to think past the day they are in and think long term here.

Oslo: Debate about segregated swimming classes

Among the various opinions in this article not one considers that maybe Muslim parents might also want their kids to get a 'normal' Norwegian education.

Out of consideration of Muslim students, boys and girls at the Møllergata school in Oslo have segregated gym and swimming classes, and the swimming teachers must be of the 'right' gender.

Eva Kjøge, the school's principal, told Norwegian news agency NTB, that due to the immigration to the city there were problems with Muslim girls who weren't permitted to take physical education or swimming classes together with boys. The school had to therefore find arrangements.

She herself is newly employed at the school and hasn't yet taken a position on whether the years-long practice will continue. She says that the arrangement was started more than ten years ago. She started working at the school in August and wants to see how it functions before eventually making changes. This is an issue that is also important to discuss with the parents.

Kjøge points out however that the requirement to adapt education is a superior principle in Norwegian schools and that the division of sexes only applies to a few classes.

The education department in Oslo doesn't know the extent of sexual segregation in elementary schools. Astrid Søgnen, the education director in Oslo, says that such things don't happen to a high extent and that this conflicts with the education law. Though she also points to the student's right to adapt education.

She says that she has problems that the Møllergata school is doing such a offence. The arrangement was worked out together with the parents and is a result of a long tradition. The school thinks the solution works good, and that it's most important that the students learn to swim.

Does she understand parents who might react to preventing their children from having mixed education in gym and swimming out of religious consideration that only a minority require?

She does and she guarantees that the school will make an effort to find an alternative solution, if there will be such a requirement from the parents.

She points out that 38% of the students in Oslo's elementary schools have a multicultural background and says that the problems connected to sex and physical education are solved differently in different schools.

State Secretary Lisbet Rugtvedt of the Socialist Left Party (SV) says that swimming is one of the exceptions where students can be segregated by sex, out of respect for the minority and the right of religious expression.

Anders Anundsen of the Progress Party disagrees, despite that the party principally supports segregation by sex for pedagogical reasons. Anundsen says that a school class shouldn't be segregated due to religious convictions. It conflicts with how they see schools in Norway. Besides offering swimming education, the students are schooled in social abilities. He doesn't like it, he says.

The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud is skeptical about the division of classes by gender. Bjørg Unstad says that gender is normally far too coarse a category by which to divide people. The starting point must be equal education, but if it's based on pedagogical considerations, gender segregation might be appropriate. She stresses that it's important that everybody is offered good swimming education and points to the many drowning accidents in Oslo this summer.

But there are several conceivable ways to this, she says. Swimsuits that completely cover the body can be a solution. According to Unstad it's important to also listen to the students who are not religious. It's unfortunate if segregation of the sexes causes a disproportionally large burden for the rest of the students.

Loveleen Rihel Brenna of the Parent's committee for elementary schools says that problem isn't unknown. They have gotten several reports from schools who segregate by sex out of consideration for the girls. Their experience is that boys take up a lot of room in classes such as physical education and swimming and that this makes it hard for the girls to develop themselves.

Brenna thinks the law is open for segregation in a few classes, but assumes that it happens through close cooperation with the parents. At the same time, she understands that the education law gives room for different interpretations, and that maybe the law or the regulations should be made clearer.

Link to Article


Anonymous said...

The fear of offending Muslims is reaching fever pitch now all through the West.
The politically correct brigade have struck again.
It will be the ordinary people in the end who will have to stand up and say
"no more"
For the sake of sanity.

Joan of Ark

Christopher Logan said...

If we do not stop being politically correct as a whole we will lose.

Anonymous said...

Heaven forbid Muslim girls are permitted to grow physically & psychologically. They must be kept in the dark, wrapped in full body covering clothing, & taught to shut up & respect those who know better than them, Muslim men.
After all, once they learn to swim, one day they might be able to save one of their children or another's child from drowning, of course so long as the child is of the 'right' gender! Right!?
In a world that continues to disregard & discard specific religious beliefs of others, that people are submitting to religious pressures from a particular religious group, is patently offensive.
If women around the world do not stand up & demand this be stopped, then they had better get used to being the chattel of men. And, many men will be the abusive type. But, since they accept this for one group, it is surely right for all groups! Right!?

Anonymous said...

My experience in American public school was once we reached puberty the gym classes were segregated. Not for religious purposes and this shouldn't be done for religious purposes. But, because the separation allows the females to fully participate. Guys, are more agressive ant therefore the contact sports were difficult to do with them. We did field hockey, floor hockey, basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, softball, and gymnastics. We didn't have a swimming pool back then, but now they do and the classes are separated. Our health classes were also separated from 7th grade on. There is no reason to have any other classes separated. Though some math courses in some elementary schools are separated because girls are afraid to excel in the presense of boys but excel when they aren't in the same class/ The females in my class did much better than the males. Out of the top ten in our class, 8 were female. By the way, all of my gym teachers, health teachers and coaches for female sports were female. We did have one male coach for volleyball. The boys had males. So, you see, it isn't all that strange to have physical classes, and health related classes (they talk about female and male parts and physiology). But, to segregate because of some minorities religious preference is unheard of.

Christopher Logan said...

Thanks for your insightful comments.

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