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SCHOOL

School to bullied lesbian teen: don’t be so gay

A school in southern Sweden told a female student to "tone down" her homosexuality as a remedy to bullying from other students for being gay, prompting the girl to report the school for discrimination.

The victim’s report, which has filed with the Swedish Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen, DO), explains how the teen had to quit her studies at the Munkgård high school after severely mistreatment from other students.

Teachers at the school were unhelpful when she raised the matter with them, telling the girl to “tone down” her sexuality as other students were “confused and scared” by it.

According to the girl’s report, the incidents began when she was assaulted in 2010 by a fellow student who had hit her in the head, causing a minor head fracture.

“She threatened to shove pliers into my eyes and then she took hold of the pliers and delivered three hefty hits against my temples and the area close to my eyes,” the girl wrote in the report.

When she later consulted the school about the incident, teachers told her it was all her own fault.

According to the report, the school told her:

“You’re the one to blame. It was your own fault. You provoked her,” adding that she should have “just hit back.”

After online research, the girl discovered that the school must report any mistreatment that occurs during school hours, and confronted the school, only to be told that it was up to her to make a report.

The case is now being handled by the DO, but before any compensation decisions are made, the school will be given the chance to comment, according to DO case officer Sara Stenberg.

“We have made a request for the principal of the school to comment on the case. This is standard procedure. They have until July 6th to make a comment,” she told The Local.

Salomon Rogberg

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EDUCATION

Distance learning remains a ‘possibility’ for Swedish schools: Education minister

Remote learning remains a possibility, but not an obligation, for schools in Sweden as students around the country begin term this week, the Education Minister said on Wednesday.

Distance learning remains a 'possibility' for Swedish schools: Education minister
Education Minister Anna Ekström (L) and general director of the Schools Inspectorate, Helén Ängmo. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Minister Anna Ekström made the comments during a press conference in which she outlined the rules ahead of back-to-school season but did not make any new announcements.

She urged schools to be “flexible”, outlining some of the measures which have been recommended by the National Board of Education since an early stage in the pandemic.

This include changing furniture arrangements to promote distancing, staggering lesson and break times to prevent students mixing in large groups, and increasing cleaning. Many parent-teacher meetings are likely to be cancelled, she said.

Schools for under-16s have remained open throughout the pandemic, and Ekström said this decision was based on research showing children were affected by the virus to a lesser extent. “The younger the child, the more mild the symptoms,” she said.

In Sweden, only one of the almost 6,000 people to have died after testing positive for the coronavirus was aged under 10, and none of the victims have been in the 10-19 age group.

Ekström added that no occupational group linked to schools had been over-represented in Sweden's coronavirus statistics.

In addition to taking this kind of measures, heads of schools have also been given additional decision-making powers.

These include the ability to switch to remote learning, or make other changes such as adapting the timetable (including moving lessons to weekends) if necessary due to the infection situation. 

“If the situation gets worse, teaching can be moved partially or entirely to distance learning. This could happen in the whole country, individual schools, or in municipalities or regions where schools may need to close as a measure to prevent spread of infection,” Ekström said.

“The government is prepared to take measures, but we don't want to close schools.”

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