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Muslim students and sex-ed


Summarized: Attendance at lessons, including sex ed, is one of the obligations of a school student, which is why pupils must attend it as a matter of principle. However, the school must ensure, through restraint and tolerance, that no conflicts of belief arise for students and their parents. The school must not advocate or reject any particular sexual behavior.

Admission to a public school establishes a relationship under public law, from which rights and obligations arise for the students. Participation in Sex Ed at school is one of these obligations.1 An exemption from this obligation doesn’t have much chance of success.  

In sex education class, the religious or ideological beliefs of individual pupils can undoubtedly be affected.190 The upbringing rights of parents may also be affected if the child has not yet reached the age of 14 and is not of religious age.2 Parents do, after all, have the fundamental right to make decisions regarding the religious education of their children. Consequently, the student's freedom of religion protected under Article 4 of the German Basic Law or the educational and upbringing rights of parents from Article 6 of the Basic Law may be violated by the obligation to participate in sex education classes.3 

However, the state carries the responsibility of fulfilling an educational mandate.4 The state's educational mandate, guaranteed by Article 7 of the Basic Law, gives the state the authority to plan, organize and manage the content and didactics of the school system, its training courses and the lessons taught there.5 With the state's educational mandate, the state does not only aim at merely imparting knowledge to young people but would like to educate them to become self-responsible citizens who participate in the democratic processes of a pluralistic society.6 With this, the state is prevented from influencing its citizens in a particular ideological, political or religious direction by identifying itself with a particular worldview.7 After all, the religious peace of society can be endangered by this. This would be the case with sex education if it were indoctrinated, for example by advocating or rejecting a certain sexual behavior.8  

Thus, although parents cannot have a say in sex education at school, especially not in deciding the whethers and hows, they can expect restraint, tolerance and respect for the children's natural sense of shame and consideration for religious and ideological convictions on part of the school.198 The school is not allowed to indoctrinate it‘s students, for example by advocating or rejecting a certain sexual behavior.9 

The Federal Administrative Court stated that the instruction to exercise tolerance towards different sexual orientations was a recognized state objective.10 Furthermore, informing parents at an early stage about the aim and content of sex education ensures that they can then also influence their children according to their religious and ideological convictions.11 In this way, parents are given the opportunity to convey their views on abstinence and their ideas on life planning to their children.12 As a result, case law is of the opinion that sex education provided in accordance with these principles satisfies the parents' demands and therefore, as a rule, no exemption from sex education on religious grounds is to be granted.13   

Again, other reasons that may justifiably prevent participation in class, such as illness, remain untouched from any of the other reasons discussed above. 

See Section 69 (1) of the Hesse School Act as an example. 

Again see Section 69 (4) 1 of the Hesse School Act. 

Higher Administrative Court in North Rhine-Westphalia, case from 05.09.2007, 19 A 2705/06, margin 45. 

See above, margins 45, 47.

See above. 

See above, margins 49, 51.

Federal Constitutional Court, case from 11.09.2013, 6 C 25.12, margin 11.

Federal Constitutional Court, decision from 21.12.1977, 1 BVL 1/75, 1 BVR 147/75, margin 99.

Federal Constitutional Court, case from 21.07.2009, BvR 1358/09, margin 15.

10 See above.

11 Federal Constitutional Court, decision from1.12.1977, 1 BVL 1/75, 1 BVR 147/75, margin 112.

12 See above, margin 11.

13 Federal Administrative Court, case from 08.05.2008, 6 B 64.07, margin 11. 

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