School's out for death metal teacher
Published: 24 Jun 2008 16:04 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Jun 2008 16:04 GMT+02:00
A hard rocking teacher who was fired before ever setting foot in a classroom has lodged a discrimination complaint with Sweden’s Ombudsman of Justice (JO).
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In early June, Emil Koverot, who goes by the stage name Yxmarder as a member of the death metal band Blodsrit (Blood Rite), had been offered and accepted a position as an aesthetics instructor at the Hammargymnasiet high school in Västervik.
Koverot’s reputation as a hard rock guitarist was well known in the community in southern Sweden.
His band even came up during his employment interview with the school’s principal Sven Torstensson.
“He thought my participation in the band was a good thing,” Koverot explained to The Local.
“There are several students at the school who are into hard rock and he thought that I’d be able to relate to them better.”
Koverot had just received his teaching degree and was looking forward to the start of classes in August.
He had even turned down other offers after being offered the job at Hammargymnasiet.
But within a week, Torstenssonhad changed his tune about the appropriateness of Koverot’s membership in Blodsrit.
“He based the dismissal on my participation in a hard rock band, something that couldn’t be accepted by other staff, or by the student’s parents,” wrote Koverot in his complaint to JO.
“The principal felt that my band was so highly immoral that he advised against me ever devoting myself to leading a classroom.”
Koverot theorizes that some of the school’s staff and parents who belong to the Pentecostalist church put pressure on Torstensson to have Koverot fired for fear that he might be a bad influence.
“It’s the same old stereotypes,” he said.
“It’s the same way people reacted to the Beatles in the 1960s.”
Attempts by The Local to reach the principal for comment were unsuccessful.
However, he defended the decision in an interview with the Västerviks Tidningen (VT) newspaper.
“The contents of the band’s lyrics conflict with the school’s values,” he told the newspaper.
Torstensson added that the decision to fire Koverot was taken after he reviewed Boldrit's lyrics together with lawyers from the Swedish Association of Regions and Local Authorities (SALAR), which has authority over Sweden's public schools.
Koverot feels the school has handled the matter inappropriately and in so doing has violated his right to freedom of expression.
“From my perspective, this is a question of democratic values. As a state authority, one of a school’s most important tasks is to protect democracy and equal treatment,” he said.
“I think it’s regrettable that the principal could pass judgment on my own beliefs and hobbies.”
Blodsrit, which was formed in 2000, has released six albums and regularly tours throughout Europe.