Denmark: Many schools making religious concessions

Denmark: Many schools making religious concessions

Although some politicians ire was raised over mothers only meetings, many schools make concessions based on a student's religion

Gender-segregated school meetings, special washrooms, prayer rooms and days off for holy days are just some of the concessions many of the nation's primary and secondary schools have been making for students of non-Christian religions.

According to a Politiken newspaper poll of 1,500 administrators at the country's 592 state-operated schools, around a third have been willing to modify their general practices to accommodate certain groups – in particular Muslims.

'We just try to take into account what is best for the children,' said Anders Balle, president of the national school principals' association. 'And if an extra day off for a religious holiday means that a family will look more favourably upon the school, then I see the move as a good one.'

Politiken took the survey after the issue made headlines recently when Holberg School in Copenhagen indicated it would start holding weekly 'mothers only' meetings. School administrators said this was because some Muslim fathers would not allow their wives to attend the regular meetings in the company of other men.

The decision was not a popular one for a number of MPs, who believed the move allowed the Muslim fathers to dictate how the school was operating.

But the new survey showed that Holberg School was far from unique in making exceptions to the usual way of doing things at the nation's schools. Regarding mothers only meetings, 26 of the schools polled indicated they have also had gender-divided parent meetings, though not always due to religious considerations.

Yet religious considerations are nonetheless widespread at the schools. Around one-quarter have special changing rooms – primarily for Muslim girls, but also for overweight students who say they are embarrassed by their appearance.

A third of schools give extra days off for religious festivals, such as the Muslim Eid.


Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

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