The Far-Right Attack on Poland’s Education in the UK and US – Byline Times

Superintendent of Poland’s Małopolska province seeks to ban anti-racism and pro-human rights groups from working with students – but attack on progressive education goes beyond Polish borders

Anti-racist, feminist, pro-LGBTIQ and human rights organizations are likely to be banned from working with students in Poland’s Małopolska province, as the region’s superintendent is compiling a list of groups she says are destroying the “social norms” of the country.

The decision comes as Poland debates a new law that would allow regional superintendents to block outside organizations from teaching students. It has already been passed by the lower house of Parliament.

The list includes Amnesty International, theNever Again Association, the Ponton Sex Educators Group and a foundation supporting children with Down syndrome.

It was based on lists compiled by the religious right organization Ordo Iuris – which campaigns against LGBTIQ rights and abortion rights – and Protect Our Children, an anti-vaxxer and anti-sex education group. At least three of Ordo Iuris’ board members have held political positions in Poland.

Małopolska Province Superintendent Barbara Nowak says listed groups intend to ‘sexualise under the guise of education’ and harm ‘not only children and adolescents, but also the condition of the whole society. “.

These charges are leveled against organizations that educate people about the Holocaust and the need to fight anti-Semitism, as well as international human rights NGOs, LGBTIQ rights groups and women’s rights defenders. .

But they are part of a worrying, international trend that seeks to attack anti-racism and pro-human rights education – including here in the UK.

“Education should be a pathway to emancipation and enlightenment, not oppression and discrimination,” said Dr Rafal Pankowski, from Never Again. Signing time. “Unfortunately, the Polish education system is increasingly turning into an ideological tool for the extreme right.

“It is no coincidence that the list of allegedly dangerous organizations includes anti-racism and human rights groups such as Never Again Association, Amnesty International, Auschwitz Jewish Center, Roma Association of Poland as well as many women’s rights and LGBT rights organizations. It is a clear example of institutionalized intolerance and bigotry.

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The proposed ban on human rights groups working with school children is part of a series of anti-rights laws in Poland that include a ban on same-sex adoption and a toughening of already draconian restrictions on childbirth. ‘abortion.

This also follows the controversial Holocaust Bill, which amended the National Remembrance Institute Act to state that “whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation or the Polish state of being responsible for or complicit in Nazi crimes committed by the German Third Reich…is liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to three years”.

The bill was intended to keep Poland and its citizens away from Nazi crimes, despite evidence of complicity between some Poles and Nazi occupying forces. At the time, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland was committed to combating lies about the Holocaust and that “the camps where millions of Jews were murdered were not Polish. This truth must be protected”.

The proposal to ban organizations that promote Holocaust education and the fight against anti-Semitism therefore appears to be a continuation of the controversial 2018 bill, not least because the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz is located in the province of Małopolska.

When it comes to opposing inclusive sex education, Poland is no exception in Europe. In Spain, the far-right Vox party has proposed a “parental pin” that would give parents a veto over whether their child can attend sex education classes. The pin was supported by CitizenGO, an anti-gender campaign platform connected to Ordo Iuris through the Agenda Europe network.

Similarly, in Romania, politicians gave in to pressure from the Orthodox Church to abandon plans for compulsory sex education. The parliamentarians opposed to the plan were supporters of the Coalition for the Family, another group linked to Agenda Europe which organized – and lost – an anti-LGBTQ referendum in 2018. One of its members is the co-founder of the party of far-right AUR which won 9% of the vote in the 2020 elections.

In the UK, there is a small but vocal minority that opposes inclusive sex education, focused on fringe groups such as Parent Power – a coalition of anti-gender forces such as Christian Concern and Voice for Justice. Its parliamentary launch was organized by the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, MP. Christian and Muslim activists have joined forces on the issue, with the 2019 protests in Birmingham attracting media attention.

A Ministry of Education white paper on freedom of expression in education cited research from religious right giant ADF International which has supported Poland’s rightward shift, while Ordo Iuris is the one of its allied organizations. The organization is anti-abortion and anti-LGBTIQ and seeks to uphold “parental rights” in sex education.

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Anti-racism education

The proposal to block anti-racism charities from working with pupils is a key aim of the far right.

In the United States, the campaign on teaching critical race theory – led by white supremacist forces in the Republican Party and their allies – has led to book bans and nine states have passed legislation banning the discussion, training, and/or orientation that the United States is inherently racist, as well as any discussion of conscious and unconscious bias, privilege, discrimination, and oppression.

Those who oppose race education argue that discussions of race disadvantage white students who blame themselves for current and historical racism.

This line of thinking is not limited to the United States: in the United Kingdom, provocateurs and right-wing politicians have taken aim at critical race theory.

Toby Young of the Free Speech Union called it “political indoctrinationwhile Tory MP Jonathan Gullis said the term ‘white privilege’ was ‘racist and extremist’. Alan Mendoza of the Henry Jackson Society called critical race theory “a pet project of a few crazy individuals”.

Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch warned that “any school which teaches these elements of critical race theory, or which promotes partisan political views such as police funding without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views , breaks the law”.

Additionally, the Conservative Party’s insistence on waging a “culture war” has focused on anti-racism activists rewriting history in their attempts to include narratives of slavery and the impact of Empire in the world. education, museums and public statuary.

Boris Johnson has accused Labor of being on the side of those who ‘want to tear down statues, rewrite the history of our country…to make it more politically correct’, while the Department for Education told schools in England that they should not teach “victim stories that harm British society”.

There was no banning of groups, but a suppression of certain narratives and the first step towards the policies currently employed in Poland.

Patrik Hermansson, senior researcher at Hope Not Hate, the UK’s leading anti-fascism and anti-racism campaign group, said Signing time: “Attacks on anti-racism, pro-LGBTIQ and sexual health education, and issues such as abortion are only part of a broader far-right and radical-right strategy to attacking progressive ideas and undermining the people and institutions that support them.This is done in the hope that opposition to far-right politics is weakened.

“The broader far right has long been critical of public education systems in many countries because they believe they are biased in favor of the progressive and democratic ideals they oppose.”

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