Court bars boycott of civics class in Spain

Published on International Herald Tribune IHT, by Victoria Burnett, January 29, 2009.

MADRID: Thousands of children boycotting a civic education class that includes the exploration of such issues as gay rights and stem-cell research must return to the class following a ruling by the Supreme Court here.

The court ruled Wednesday that public-school children could not be kept out of the class on the basis of conscientious objection. The ruling was a blow for parents who asserted that the class usurped their right to sculpt their children’s morals and promoted ideas that clash with their own conservative values.

The curriculum, which is taught in primary and secondary schools, includes lessons on human rights, gender equality and political systems, as well as sexuality and family issues.

Since it started in September 2007, the class has become a battleground for competing visions of Spanish society: one grounded in Catholicism and the other in the liberal policies of the Socialist government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero …

… María Dolores Cano whose son, José Joachim Flores Cano, has boycotted the civics class, said she did not want her son learning things in school that clashed with her Catholic values.

The Supreme Court decision reversed a ruling in March last year by the highest court in Andalusia, where Cano lives, that recognized her son’s right to miss class on the basis of conscientious objection.

“Not everything that is legal is moral. Abortion is legal in this country, but that doesn’t make it moral,” she said by telephone Thursday. “A family is a mother, a father and their children. I completely respect people of the same sex who have a relationship. But you can’t call it marriage.” (full text).

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