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ISLAM

Stockholm school segregates boys and girls in gym class

Sweden’s education minister has called for tougher laws preventing gender segregation after a Muslim school was given the all-clear to run separate gym classes for boys and girls.

Stockholm school segregates boys and girls in gym class
A gym class for first-graders. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

All four centre-right parties in the opposition Alliance criticized the national school inspectorate's decision, and the education minister, Gustav Fridolin, said he shared their concern.

Separating boys and girls in primary school and lower secondary school “can not be a way of working with gender equality,” he told TV4 Nyheterna. 

The minister said he would instruct officials on Monday to examine how to make changes to the existing legislation. 

Nina Da Mata, a sports teacher at the Al-Azhar school, defended the policy and said she would teach in the same way in a non-Muslim school.

“The girls feel more secure when they are in a group of the their own,” she told Mivida, the Swedish Teachers Union newspaper. 

The school was reported to the inspectorate by an individual who worried that gender-segregated gym classes risked perpetuating patriarchal norms. 

But the inspectorate ruled that the quality of gym classes offered by the school did not differ between boys and girls. 

The school’s principal told the inspectorate that the pupils had a “Muslim cultural background” and would not be able to participate in gym classes at all if boys and girls were in the same group. 

The gym teacher Nina Da Mata elaborated:

“Some of our girls want to be able to take off their veils and wear shorts and T-shirts in their classes. The would be difficult if there were boys of the same age or a male teacher,” she told Mivida. 

The former Minister for Upper Secondary Schools, Aida Hadzialic, said in June that Sweden needed to discuss whether to ban religious schools amid reports that some schools were segregating boys and girls.

Sweden's free school system of state-funded but privately run schools was introduced in 1992 and paved the way for religious organisations to operate schools as long as they stuck to the secular Swedish curriculum. 

HEALTH

Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime 

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