PETITION: Expel Poland’s Discriminatory Ombudsman

Children deserve safe schools

We call on the European Network for Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) to expel Poland. The Polish Ombudsperson for Children is investigating LGBTIQ+-friendly schools. He says that those “tolerant schools” have a “high risk of employing sex offenders”

Rémy Bonny

Executive Director, Forbidden Colours

LGBTIQ+ Friendly Schools are the next target of the Polish ultraconservative government. 

Since 2018, the Polish organization Growspace has been organizing an LGBTIQ+ Friendly School Ranking. The Ranking makes a list of the most tolerant and accepting high schools for LGBTIQ+ persons in the country. Every year, over 15.000 high school students take part in the research, and over 2.000 schools are being ranked. 

With Forbidden Colours, we have been financially and strategically supporting the project since 2021. 

For the first time since 2018, the Polish government has reacted to the Ranking. On May 10, the Polish Ombudsperson for Children, Mikołaj Pawlak, announced inspections during the “Church-Education-Upbringing” conference organized in the monastery in Wigry by the “Europa Christi” movement.

“I assure the minister and ladies and gentlemen that I will start in May with the first 10-20 as part of the inspection” he declared, addressing the participants of the conference and the Minister of Education, Przemysław Czarnek, present in the room. (Source: OKO.Press)

In an interview with the conservative daily Gazeta Polska, the Ombudsperson said: “Unfortunately, in many cases it turns out that directors or other institutions do not verify their employees in the register of pedophiles. We must protect children from criminals and such verification is one of the important tools that should be used”. 

“It is also interesting that it is often in these foundations, institutions that consider themselves to be libertarian and the most tolerant, that various irregularities occur” – he added. With this, he claims there’s an unfounded link between schools that are tolerant towards its LGBTIQ+ communities and pedophilia. 

This is however not the first time that the Polish Ombudsperson for Children has been spreading lies about LGBTIQ+ communities. In 2020, during an interview with TVN24, Pawlak said that he’s fighting against sexual educators “grabbing children, stuffing them with drugs to change their gender”. 

With this move, the Ombudsperson is sending a strong signal towards high schools: abandon your LGBTIQ+ pupils. After years of hateful campaigns against the LGBTIQ+ communities in Poland by the government, suicide thoughts amongst queer teenagers are skyrocketting. Now, the government is trying to take away the few schools in the country that are providing a safe space for queer teenagers. 

This attack against Poland’s queer teenagers is a blatant violation of the most fundamental rights of children. It endangers the very lives that a government has the duty to protect.

Considering all of this, Forbidden Colours comes to the conclusion that the actions by the Polish Ombudsperson for Children should not be tolerated any longer by any European network. As European Network for Ombudspersons for Children (ECON), they are legitimizing their member organizations towards the outside world. Besides a blatant violation of the most fundamental rights of children, the membership of Mr. Pawlak undermines the credibility of your organization. 

Therefore, Forbidden Colours asks ECON to expel the institution of the Polish Ombudsperson for Children from the European network for as long as guarantees to secure the rights of all Polish children are not provided.

A campaign in coopertion with