The Swedish government is proposing new laws that would require all girls attending school to be required to take sex education classes as well as participate in swimming activities. Education Minister Jan Bjorklund, insists “all pupils, including immigrant girls have the right to swimming lessons,” and the right to refuse will be eliminated in new legislation. She fears too many Muslim girls have parents who do not want their daughters to participate in sex education of be involved in swimming. “The will of the girl is often subordinated to what is considered to be the best interests of the family, the men’s or the group’s ‘honor’ base on the girl’s sexual behavior.” It is estimated 10% of girls refuse to participate in sex education or swimming.
The thin line between the rights of parents and the right of schools to have a curriculum is difficult to gauge. Certainly, no educator seeks to create problems in a family, but there is also need to expand the child’s contact with the world and that frequently results in conflict between school and family.