While schools commonly uphold co-ed classrooms in the United States, Swedish schools incorporate same-sex classes more commonly. But now, the Swedish government proposes against same-sex classrooms.
The ban, if approved, will include all subjects and will guarantee equal education opportunities for all in Sweden.
The Education Minister, Gustav Fridolin, said there is no timeline for the new rules. However, he will provide information outlining the specifics of the ban and how administrators must integrate it with the current curriculum.
He said there is no need to divide education because of differences in gender.
“If you feel that having girls and boys in the same class causes problems, then the problems themselves must be addressed, not avoided by simply splitting the class up,” he explained.
While officials have debated the situation for quite some time, two events sparked its finalization. Despite the government’s approval, an all-Muslim school, Al-Azhar, segregated its physical education classes in 2016. This led to community members openly condemning the situation and stirring numerous debates.
More recently, the Adolfsberg School in Orebro segregated every class besides science. Administration segregated students for a six-week trial period, but parents and students caused an uproar of the circumstance.
Despite criticism in both situations, the schools felt the segregations were justified. They claimed many students are shy and unable to fully engage in the classroom discussions and material because other sexes make them uncomfortable.
Nina Da Mata, a physical education teacher at Al-Azhar, said, “The girls feel more secure when they are in a group of their own.”
Swedish legislation states that the state funds school systems, but groups privately run schools. This allows schools to incorporate religion and personal beliefs into specific school regulations, as long as they stick to the state’s curriculum. Sweden previously permitted gender segregation so long as both genders equal standards of teaching.