Madrid to inspect school where girls knit and boys visit soccer stadiums

State-subsidized Catholic college in hot water over segregated extra-curricular activities

The Juan Pablo II school in the Madrid district of Alcorcón.
The Juan Pablo II school in the Madrid district of Alcorcón.Jaime Villanueva (EFE)

Madrid’s Education Department is to send inspectors to the state-subsidized Roman Catholic Juan Pablo II school in the dormitory town of Alcorcón to investigate complaints of sexual discrimination in relation to the center’s extracurricular activities. There is, for example, a crochet class that is exclusively for girls, while a boys-only visit to soccer side Real Madrid’s Bernabéu stadium coincided with female pupils visiting a soup kitchen, according to radio station Cadena SER.

The school, part of the Educatio Servanda chain of institutions, is one of 18 government-subsidized private schools in the region to keep girls and boys apart.

Boys toured Real Madrid’s stadium, while girls visited a soup kitchen

If the inspectors uncover discrimination in the school’s extracurricular activity program, the regional government of Madrid could impose penalties, said spokesperson Ángel Garrido.

Carlos Martínez, the school’s director, was fined in December by the regional government for sending out a letter containing homophobic references. More specifically, he compared recent legislation guaranteeing the rights of the capital’s LGBT community with “fanatical terrorism.”

The school’s website now runs a support campaign for the director, who was fined for his comments. The campaign includes anti-transgender messages similar to those plastered on the side of the bus used by the ultra-conservative Catholic group Hazte Oír (Make Yourself Heard), which was ordered off the streets by Madrid City Hall at the end of February.

Madrid’s education policy clearly states that subsidized schools must inform the department of term-time extracurricular activities so that it can ensure they meet requirements. They should, for example, be voluntary and not-for-profit.

The school’s director was fined in December for sending out a letter with homophobic references

Officials at the Madrid Education Department were not informed of these activities at Juan Pablo II, and will now draw up a report following the inspection after the Easter break. The department has stated that instructions were given to government-subsidized schools summarizing all the rules concerning extracurricular activities at the start of the year.

English version by Heather Galloway.


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