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May 25, 2023
Poland Threatens Another LGBTQ Crackdown — This Time on Schools
(Bloomberg) -- Poland’s watchdog for children pledged to inspect the country’s most LGBTQ-inclusive schools, suggesting a renewed crackdown on the community by the right-wing government.
Mikolaj Pawlak said his office will start by visiting as many as 20 high schools at the top of The LGBTQ+ Youth Friendly Schools Ranking, an annual rating of nearly 10,000 schools by the Warsaw-based GrowSpace foundation.
Pawlak was speaking on May 10 at a conference of a Catholic political movement in a monastery in Wigry, northeastern Poland, attended by Education Minister Przemyslaw Czarnek.
The comments didn’t come to light until this week when they were reported by national media including TVN24, Onet.pl and Oko.press. Pawlak was quoted as saying that his aim was to find out “how this friendliness manifests itself.”
Marcin Golaszewski, an activist in the central city of Lodz, likened the plan to an “Inquisition,” while Dominik Kuc of GrowSpace described it as “a knife in the back of schools.”
Schools “should instead be supported for their efforts to create safe and open space for everyone,” Kuc said.
GrowSpace will hold a news conference on Friday to outline legal options for schools threatened with inspections. The organization introduced the ranking five years ago to highlight safe and tolerant places to study. It is based on an online survey of thousands of students.
The ombudsman is legally required to routinely inspect schools and other institutions that work with children and to ensure staff is vetted, Pawlak’s press office said in response to e-mailed questions.
Pawlak is an appointee of the ruling Law & Justice party, which is facing a tough parliamentary election expected in the fall. The party is backed by the nation’s Catholic Church and over the past few years has also targeted abortion and demonized Muslim refugees. The LGBTQ community has been depicted as an “ideology” backed by the European Union that needs to be eradicated.
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