Danish politicians have lashed out at a decision by a school in Copenhagen to prohibit fathers of pupils from a parental meeting out of apparent respect for Muslim mothers. The incident has caused deep divisions between school and national leaders.
The Bispebjerg district’s Holberg School arranged a parents’ meeting to discuss the educational institute’s anti-bullying policy. However, the meeting at the proudly multi-cultural school was declared mothers-only, meaning that neither immigrant nor Danish fathers could attend discussions relating to their own children.
The Copenhagen Post reveals that the school invitation asked for mothers to attend and participate in a “debate about bullying that includes mother talk, yummy food, coffee and cake”. Mothers were also welcomed to bring their young children to the meeting with them as babysitting services were provided.
Soren Ellesoe, the school principal, claimed the initiative was aimed at reaching out to groups that usually shy away from parent-teacher meetings. “We have immigrant women parents in particular whose husbands believe that women should not take part in something if other men are present,” Ellesoe stated. His decision has been supported by Anders Bondo Christensen of the Danish Teachers’ Union. “If it’s to ensure that students get a safe and good school day without bullying then I respect the decision,” said Christensen.
Politicians have reacted strongly to the move, primarily the leader of the Socialist People’s Party Villy Sovndal who decried the notion that parental equality has been ignored due to “obdurate religious ideas”. While the Danish People’s party head Carl Christian Ebbeson called for Ellesoe to be sacked. ”We won’t allow immigrant men to set the agenda for how we hold meetings in our schools,” he said.