Is Poland Introducting An Anti-LGBTIQ+ Propaganda Bill This Week?

New education reform bans LGBTIQ+ organisations

In a new educational reform in Poland, dubbed as ‘Lex Czarnek’, Polish Education Minister Przemyslaw Czarnek is orchestrating a power grab of the Polish education system. The reform will amongst other things prohibit NGOs from giving LGBTIQ+ inclusive sex education and provide the possibility to dismiss principals not following the policies of the national government. The bill resembles Russia’s and Hungary’s anti-LGBTIQ+ Propaganda Law.

This week, the Polish Parliament’s Education Committee (Sejm) has adopted the law. The vote on the Bill is scheduled on January 12th, by the Plenary of the Sejm. Afterwards, it will go to the Senate. Most probably, the Senate will vote against. In the case of the Sejm voting for the Bill, and the Senate voting against, the final decision lies with ultra conservative President Andzej Duda. He is expected to be in favour of this law change.

Mid-November 2021 the Polish Council of Ministers adopted the draft of Lex Czarnek. The law change gives a lot more power to the School Superintendent. In Poland, a School Superintendent is a manager in charge of several schools that fall under the supervision of the Polish Ministry of Education. When Lex Czarnek will be adopted, the school superintendent will play a crucial role in selecting a candidate for the post of head of a school.

Besides that, Lex Czarnek will oblige the headteacher – prior to the commencement of classes conducted by associations or organisations – to obtain detailed information on the plan of activities at school and the outline of the classes and materials used during the offered classes, as well as to obtain a positive opinion of the school superintendent for the activities of such an organisation at school or institution. Participation of a pupil in activities conducted by associations or organisations will require a written consent of a parent of a minor pupil or a consent of an adult pupil.

Back To Communism

Rémy Bonny, from EU LGBTIQ+ advocacy group Forbidden Colours: “The bill is the light version of Russia’s and Hungary’s anti-LGBTIQ+ propaganda law. Earlier this year, Minister Czarnek already showed interest in an anti-propaganda bill, when Hungary introduced it. Today, he’s implementing parts of it. Schools will not be able to help LGBTIQ+ pupils anymore.”

According to the Association of Polish Cities, the education reform constitutes “an attack on free, self-governing, open and modern schools”.

According to Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s biggest independent newspaper: “When students want to organise another “Rainbow Friday”, the headteacher will not agree. They won’t allow an LGBT organisation to come to the school with a lecture on equality. And they won’t send a teacher on an equality education course. Because they won’t want to lose their job.”

During a heated public hearing in the Sejm, organised by the Polish opposition, several civil society organisations called the law “a return for schools to the times of the People’s Republic of Poland”.

It is clear, LGBTIQ+ teenagers will be the victim of this law. Opinion polls suggest that since the governmental attacks on the LGBTIQ+ community, suicidal thoughts amongst LGBTIQ+ people are sky rocketing. Research of 2021 shows that more than half (55%) of the LGBTIQ+ community declare that they happen to have suicidal thoughts (up from 45% in 2017 and 38% in 2012). One can assume that this number will be even higher amongst LGBTIQ+ teenagers.

Forbidden Colours asks policy-makers across the EU to publicly express support for LGBTIQ+ teenagers in Poland and condemn the bill. Everybody wishing to address the topic can take a picture with a sign saying “Wolna Szkoła”(Translation: ‘Free Schools’) and share it on social media, using the following hashtags: #CzarnekOut #WolnaSzkoła #LexCzarnek.