Poland’s President Should Veto Bill Targeting Sex Education

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02/22/2022

Rights activists, students, and educators in Poland wait anxiously this week as the country’s president Andrzej Duda decides whether to sign a dangerous bill that would increase government control over what students can and can’t learn, threatening access to already-limited comprehensive sexuality education (CSE). If passed, the bill, dubbed “Lex Czarnek” after education minister Przemysław Czarnek, would give government “educational welfare officers” the authority to decide what extracurricular or educational activities can occur in schools, and establish a complex bureaucracy around approving or refusing such activities. These officers would also be included in decision-making about removing head teachers, raising concerns that dismissals will be politicized. The bill’s supporters, including members of the conservative ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and allied groups, claim it protects children and parental rights. But government leaders in Poland increasingly use such arguments as a smokescreen for assaults on reproductive rights and the rights of women and girls and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. This includes suppression of CSE, which appears to be the bill’s real target.

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