Christian teacher fired for refusing to say ‘hen’


Northern Europe


Waldorf school Solvikskolan in Järna. Photo Wikimedia, Sigurdas

A Swedish teacher has been accused of discrimination after refusing to address a non-binary student with the gender-neutral pronoun ‘hen’. The Discrimination Ombudsman ruled that the teacher is guilty of a “serious form of harassment, by deliberately refraining from using the pronoun with which the student identifies”, Dagen reports.

In autumn 2020, the teacher, Selma Gamaleldin, started working at the Waldorf school Solvikskolan in Järna, Dagen writes. The school informed her that one of her students wanted to be addressed with ‘hen’. However, she responded that she could not use the word in speech.

Early 2021, Gamaleldin was suspended after the parents, and the principal had ‘talks’. The school board also told the teacher that she could be fired if she continued to refuse to use ‘hen’ to address the student.

Yet, Selma Gamaleldin did not change her opinion and was, therefore, indeed dismissed. Still, the student’s parents decided to report the school to the Inspectorate, which criticized the school and called in the Discrimination Ombudsman.

Discrimination compensation

The Discrimination Ombudsman decided that this was indeed a case of discrimination and requested the school to pay a discrimination compensation to the student. The amount of money the school has to compensate amounts to 150,000 SEK (about 14.000 euros), the Ombudsman announced in a press release. If the school refuses to pay, the Ombudsman will submit a lawsuit to the district court.

After her lay-off, Selma Gamaleldin recorded a video to explain her situation. The clip circulated widely on social media. In an interview with Dagen, Gamaleldin explained why she chose to record it. “There are three reasons”, she says. “First, my faith in God: I felt that God called me to do this. The second reason is my daughter. The third reason is all of Sweden’s children. My daughter and all the other children may have to grow up in a society that is worse than society is today.”

In addition, Selma Gamaleldin herself reported the school to the Discrimination Ombudsman for discrimination on religious grounds. No decision has yet been made.



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