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Immigrant girls and sex education - who knows best?
On Thursday, representatives of the Liberal Party made headlines with a controversial proposal to do away way a rule exempting school children from attending compulsory lessons in subjects considered objectionable by their parents. The rule came about in 1969 to allow students of different faiths to skip Christian religious instruction, which was compulsory in Swedish schools at the time. In 1996, the exemption was expanded to allow students to skip otherwise obligatory lessons, such as sex education, under "special circumstances". The Liberals' suggestion received generally positive reviews from several newspapers, although support is often accompanied by an acknowledgment that questions about the balance between religious beliefs and societal norms are never easy to answer. Nor are those about who, ultimately, should have control over what students learn. The Sydsvenskan newspaper feels that maintaining a multicultural society requires the state to play a more active role, and thus supports changes to the school law because "the exception is on its way to being transformed into a rule" in the absence of any action by the government. "Religion has its given place in people's lives. But in school, religious convictions ought to be studied, rather than be in control," concludes the paper.
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