Sweden's Justice Ombudsman, appointed by parliament, has criticised two schools for forcing students to take part in political demonstrations, including a gay Pride-themed event and a school strike for climate, the news outlet Nyheter Idag reported.
According to the complaint upheld by the ombudsman, Pilbäcksskolan school in Växjö had arranged a Pride parade that was mandatory for the students to participate in, whereas Västangård school in the city of Umeå had arranged a compulsory climate event.
The ombudsman noted that the demonstrations appeared to be part of regular school work and suggested it is conceivable that "some students were reluctant to stand out from the crowd by refraining from participating, even if they or their guardians did not really want them to be there". "Against this background, I believe that the students may be considered to have been forced to participate in the activity", the ombudsman wrote.
The municipalities in question saw no problems with the schools' actions. The Board of Education in Växjö municipality defended the Pride Parade, which was part of a theme week on the equal value of all people, and argued that participation was part of the school's "basic values work".
The climate strike organised by Västangård school was defended by the Pre-school and Primary School Committee in Umeå municipality, which argued that it cannot be viewed as a political demonstration and claimed participation was in fact voluntary. This goes against testimonies provided by the children's guardians who said that students who sought to avoid participating were told that it was mandatory.
Västangård school was also reported to the Swedish Schools Inspectorate, which, however, chose not to investigate the matter. The head of the Umeå School Inspectorate, Eva-Lena Öhlund-Brändström rejected the criticism from, among others, Moderate Party politician Anders Ågren, by claiming the students had merely gathered to report on the school's climate work.
The ombudsman, by contrast, argued that the rectors in both cases deserve criticism for what happened, but otherwise didn't hand out any disciplinary measures or statements.