“They are punished without having done anything, or if anything, they are punished for what others have done.”
A school in Spain’s autonomous Andalusia region faced backlash after it was accused of “punishing” male students by taking away their recess in honor of International Women’s Day.
A spokesman for Spain’s Vox party, which has been described as far-right and antifeminist, alleged that Huelva’s Instituto Del Andévalo de la Puebla de Guzmán ordered teachers to “punish male students, for the mere fact of being male, by taking away their recess on March 8.”
“They are punished without having done anything, or if anything, they are punished for what others have done,” the spokesman, Francisco Serrano, added in the March 5 tweet, which generated thousands of comments.
En el IES Andévalo de la Puebla de Guzmán, Huelva, la directora ha ordenado hoy a los profesores, castigar el 8M sin recreo a los alumnos varones, por el sólo hecho de serlo.
Castigados sin haber hecho nada, o si acaso, por lo que han hecho otros.https://t.co/jAyxuSyPsk pic.twitter.com/dLKxl93gJo
— Francisco Serrano (@FSerranoCastro) March 5, 2019
Accompanying Serrano’s tweet was a document made public by the school, containing explicit instructions for teachers on planned activities in celebration of International Women’s Day. The document directed teachers to give students specially designed materials (bookmarks) after a siren sounded at 11:10 a.m. on March 8. The document specified in all capital letters that the bookmarks were to be given “ONLY TO GIRLS” and “NOT TO BOYS.”
After the bookmarks were given to the female students, teachers were instructed to allow them to go to recess. The document instructed teachers to lecture students on why the gesture was taking place.
“This act of the girls being allowed to go to the courtyard, and boys not being allowed to go, is being done so that boys and girls understand how women felt throughout much of history, where simply because of their sex they’ve been barred from certain jobs, something totally unjust, but that happened,” the document read.
In a statement made to Spain’s El Mundo the same day as Serrano’s tweet, the school denied that it had intended to punish male students and characterized Vox’s criticisms as a “poor interpretation.”
According to Instituto Del Andévalo officials, the document obtained by Vox was “part of a broader proposal for activities” that “was not definitive” and “had not yet been approved by the cloister of teachers and the school board.”
The proposed action was intended to let girls go to recess five minutes early, while male students stayed behind, as a symbolic action, the statement claimed. The statement continued by noting that Instituto Del Andévalo has “always worked to integrate from different plans and educational programs to cultivate coeducation, equality and principles.”
El Mundo reported that the prosecutor’s office for minors in Huelva opened an inquiry into whether the school had violent student’s rights.