In Focus: The Preschool System

iceland preschools

A rocky startAn announcement on the City of Reykjavík website advertises employment at the city’s many preschools. In addition to the rewarding work of childcare, benefits such as free lunch, a shortened work week, a swim pass, and prioritised placement for one’s own children on preschool waitlists are all enumerated. On paper, this sounds like […]

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What’s Being Done About Homophobia in Iceland’s Schools?

Rainbow flags Höfði homophobia iceland

Iceland is often in the foreign media for its position on many indexes for human rights, equality, and social justice. Although the LGBT+ community enjoys many rights in Iceland, homophobia still remains a problem, especially in schools.

If you are interested in what the official policy is on LGBT+ students is in the Icelandic school system, you may find the official Reykjavík City website helpful.

Concerning specific steps taken to ensure the safety and well being of LGBT+ students in Iceland, there have been many initiatives and task forces lately to confront these problems, including a 2021 Task Force on Gender Neutral Facilities in Schools and a 2022 Task Force on the Status of Gender and LGBT+ Education in Reykjavík City Schools.

Currently, Reykjavík City has a 2019-2023 Human Rights and Democracy Action Plan, which entails both a report on the state of the rights of sexual minorities in Iceland, in addition to suggestions for improvement. Some suggestions include not assuming heterosexuality in schools, more open sexual education, and more mental health resources for students.

Reykjavík is also a part of the Rainbow Cities Network, a platform for cities devoted to improving LGBT+ issue. Among other requirements for certification in the Rainbow Cities Network, public employees must undergo training in issues relating to the LGBT+ community.

Homophobia in Icelandic schools is also a part of a broader discussion of bullying and mental health in young people, which has recently surfaced in the news.

We have also reported on a significant case of hate speech in Iceland, in which an individual was fined for his 2015 online comments that were found to be homophobic. Although originally acquitted, his comments were ultimately found to be in violation of Article 233 (a) of the General Penal Code, which forbids defamation, libel, threats, and discrimination. The court ruled that his comments were “serious, severely hurtful and prejudicial,” and he was fined ISK 100,000 (around EUR 800 at the time).


Archaeologists Unearth Cottage Between Reykjavík and Mosfellsbær

archaeology in iceland

Archaeologists have unearthed a cottage near Úlfarsfell, a mountain and popular walking area between Reykjavík and Mosfellsbær.

The discovery was made during exploratory excavations made preceding the construction of shopping centre. According to Icelandic law, an archaeological investigation must be conducted before construction and any finds registered with the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland.

The cottage in question, called Hamrahlíð, was found to have been inhabited from around 1850 to 1920.

Among the everyday objects found include a knife, pottery, plates, cups, glass bottles, and some agricultural tools.

Archaeologist from Antikva ehf., the contractor responsible for the excavation, stated to RÚV that: “We’ve found cooking pits, so people were cooking something here or working with food. We don’t have any mounds or any built-up fireplaces, but we do have these holes. In one, which is 35 cm deep, we have at least six layers of moss and with burnt bones and charcoal. It can be seen very clearly on the floors that they busied themselves around this area.”

Hermann Jakob Hjartarson, archaeologist at Antikva, has stated that relatively few studies of such small cottages have been carried out. He stated to RÚV that, “undoubtedly, I think that this is still just one part of a bigger story. Most people here at that time were just cottage farmers.”


Two Thirds of Reykjavík Residents Support Pedestrian Zones

Reykjavík walking district laugavegur

The majority of Reykjavík residents view pedestrian districts in downtown positively, according to a recent poll commissioned by the City of Reykjavík from Maskína, a market research group.

The recent opinion poll also reports a significant reduction in negative opinions towards pedestrian districts in the last four years. In total, 64.5% of Reykjavík residents view pedestrian districts positively, with 12.3% viewing them negatively.

Interestingly, those disposed most positively towards pedestrian districts are generally those who live near and visit pedestrian districts, such as Laugavegur, often. Conversely, negative attitudes towards walking zones were also shown to cluster around those who live away from and visit walking zones less. 88% who visit walking districts weekly or more feel positively towards them. 64% of those who visit one to three times a month felt positively towards them, and only 38% of those who visited walking districts less than once a month felt positively towards them. The neighborhoods most positively disposed towards pedestrian areas were Vesturbær (80%) and downtown (78%).

Among key benefits of walking districts residents of Reykjavík highlighted in the poll were positive effects on health, community, restaurants and cafés, and shopping.

The poll also comes at a time when Reykjavík City is planning to expand the walking district by Austurvöllur around Dómkirkjan and Alþingi. The plans for the new walking area, which can be accessed here, will convert Kirkjustræti and Temparasund into pedestrian-only areas. The area will also receive an extensive redesign.

The Maskína survey took place between August 12 and 17 of this year, with a random sample of citizens and residents selected from Registers Iceland. Respondents were 18 years and older, and represent all districts of Reykjavík.




Earthquakes Shake Grímsey, Herðubreið Overnight

herðubreið mountain iceland

Early this morning, a magnitude 4.0 earthquake was detected 30 km east-southeast of Grímsey, an island off the north coast of Iceland. The quake and its aftershocks were detected in Akureyri.

Additionally, an earthquake swarm was detected at Herðubreið, in the Vatnajökull highland, the largest quakes measuring up to magnitude 3.0.

Since October 22, some 3,600 earthquakes have been registered near Herðubreið. The most powerful so far has been a magnitude 4.1, the most significant activity since measuring began near Herðubreið in 1991.

Though some several hundred kilometers apart, the Grímsey quakes, a part of the Tjörnes fracture zone, and the latest earthquake swarm near Herðubreið are a part of the same system, resting along the plate boundary in North Iceland. Herðubreið is also significant for its proximity to Askja, a major volcano system in Iceland whose 1875 eruption caused significant damage to agriculture.

Herðubreið mountain is situated within the Ódáðahraun lava field, Iceland’s largest contiguous lava field totaling 4,400 km² (1,699 mi²). Notably, Herðubreið, meaning “Broad Shoulders,” was chosen as the national mountain of Iceland in 2002. Formed by volcanic activity under a glacier, it is considered to be Iceland’s most beautiful mountain.