Netherlands: is school freedom going too far?

Dutch Education Minister Arie Slob of the Christian Union has come under a hail of criticism for defending orthodox Protestant schools that require parents to sign a declaration against homosexuality. He invoked the principle of educational freedom, which according to the country's constitution gives schools the right to represent their views. Although Slob has since backtracked, commentators are not impressed.

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De Volkskrant (NL) /

Educational freedom ends with discrimination

De Volkskrant is outraged:

“It is unacceptable that in a publicly funded institution children are deprived of the freedom to be as they are. The already high threshold that applies for coming out within the family must not be raised even higher at school. Educational freedom and self-realization need not be a contradiction in terms: as long as schools don't abuse their freedom and treat people unequally. If they continue to do so, the time will come very soon when we will have to put an end to this.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

A difficult position

The education minister faces a dilemma, says NRC Handelsblad:

“The spirit of the times has changed: the emancipation of homosexuals is on the political agenda from left to right. And the freedom of the individual is seen as more important than that of the group. Freedom of education is also under pressure. The more than a century-old article in the constitution was intended to protect the minority from the pressure of the majority, but social support for the religious views of a minority is declining. ... However in this debate Slob is under fire from his supporters because in their opinion he is overly restricting the freedom of education. ”