March 3, 2024

Guadalaviar concerted school, where only girls go, in Valencia.
Guadalaviar concerted school, where only girls go, in Valencia.Monica Torres

No more public money to finance educational centers that segregate by sex. This is the main consequence of the ruling on the Celaá law, approved this Tuesday by the Constitutional by six votes – those of the progressive sector – to four, those corresponding to the conservative bloc. The ruling means endorsing the provision of the aforementioned norm, in the sense that public funds are not dedicated to these centers, if that is the option of the legislator, because it is not possible to see in it any action contrary to the Constitution. It is ―estimates the body of guarantees― of a legitimate choice of the public powers, based on their priorities.

The court reasons in its ruling on a Vox appeal that the Constitution derives “a pluralistic educational model”, but not that “all educational models must receive aid”, nor “a subjective right to public provision”. The ruling also considers whether the prohibition to publicly finance single-sex education “is contrary to equality or to some of the educational rights enshrined in article 27” of the Basic Law, and concludes that it is not.

In this regard, it reasons that “the difference in treatment established in the first section of additional provision 25 of the Organic Law of Education between educational centers that separate students based on their gender, in order to be able to be financed totally or partially by public funds, responds to an ideological conception of the educational system that not only cannot be accused of arbitrary, but is also inspired by constitutional values.

The sentence also considers in accordance with the Constitution the absence of mention of religion as a subject in the educational curriculum in the appealed law, and the reference that it makes to the provisions of the Agreement on Education and Cultural Affairs signed between the Holy See and the Spanish State of 1979. On the other hand, the ruling rejects the questioning of the fact that the law incorporates the gender perspective as a “state ideology” with which “necessarily” it would be intended to “indoctrinate students”.

In this sense, the Constitutional recalls that according to article 27.2 of the Constitution, education “is not mere transmission of knowledge, it is also human formation”, and that according to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) “respect for the religious or moral beliefs” does not prevent any transmission of values, but that this is carried out “in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner”. The ruling argues that there is nothing in the precepts of the appealed standard that leads one to think that “health education, including affective-sexual education” can be provided in a different sense. The court also clarifies that the “gender perspective” is mentioned in the law as a pedagogical principle addressed to administrations and educational centers, “not to students to whom the legislator does not impose, therefore, any ideological perspective or adherence.”

Another relevant point of the ruling is the one related to the right to receive education in Spanish, an issue on which the guarantee body explains that the new regulation is in accordance with article 3 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to use Spanish and the co-official status of the autonomous languages, and also with the responsibility of the State to ensure respect for the linguistic rights of students. The court considers that the necessary setting by the State of a proportion of use of Spanish in the educational system does not derive from the Fundamental Law, but rather, in accordance with the previous doctrine of the Constitution itself, “a pattern of balance or equality between languages” and an effective right to use them, principles that the Constitutional Court considers that the appealed law does not deny.

The magistrates of the conservative sector Enrique Arnaldo, Concepción Espejel, César Tolosa and Ricardo Enríquez – rapporteur of the resolution – have announced individual votes against the ruling. In the first place, they consider that the prohibition of arranging differentiated education by sex should have been declared unconstitutional. These magistrates understand that otherwise the essential content of article 27.9 of the Constitution is violated, which establishes that “the public powers will help schools that meet the requirements established by law.” They add that the principle of pluralism is undermined when the legislator totally excludes educational models that fit within the Constitution, such as differentiated education by sex, from the aid constitutionally imposed. And they emphasize that not doing so means breaking the right of minorities to receive certain “aid” so that their right to choose an alternative educational model is “real and effective”, as the Constitution states.

The dissenting magistrates also question that the Administration is forced to take into account in the resolution of discrepancies on the schooling of students with special needs only “the will of the families that show their preference for the most inclusive regime”. They believe that this tacitly excludes the others. Former Minister Juan Carlos Campo abstained for having been part of the Government that approved the law.

Among the reactions, it is worth mentioning that the Catalan Council of Education, JJosep Gonzàlez-Cambray, has not hidden his enthusiasm for the court decision, which is far from those published so far by the courts, endorsing the so-called differentiated education, reports Ivanna Vallespin. “We are in front of a historic victory because we are, for the first time, before a guarantee of justice not to renew the concerts to schools that separate boys and girls in the classrooms,” he celebrated. The sentence is especially important for Catalonia and the Government of ERC, which, within the framework of Lomloe, last year withdrew the concert from two schools that kept boys and girls separate, while eight more schools, all linked to Opus Dei, they were forced to start with mixed education. But the measure did not last long, since the Catalan justice system granted the return of the financing at the beginning of the course, as a precautionary measure.

The withdrawal of the financing was made taking advantage of the moment that the concerts in the ESO were renewed. The primary ones are valid until 2027. However, Cambray reaffirmed this Tuesday that “the concerts will not be renewed” for this type of school and he chested out that it was his party, ERC, the one that forced the inclusion in Lomle of the article to end the financing of these schools. “It has not been an easy road, we have achieved it with perseverance, conviction and confidence”, the counselor concluded with a triumphant tone.

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