The governing party in the Polish parliament has introduced a bill that could criminalize some forms of sex education in schools.
The Law and Justice Party (PiS), which won a majority in the country’s recent elections, is supporting a “Stop Pedophilia” law in the Sejm, the lower house of the country’s parliament. The law would criminalize the “promotion of underage sexual activity” by folding it under existing treatment of other crimes against minors.
Currently, Polish schools do not offer formal sex education but, according to Reuters, are charged with providing courses aimed at helping students “prepare for family life.” How the courses are organized and administered differs between local authorities.
Opposition MPs have said that the bill leaves sex education teaching open to possible penalties including up to five years in prison for potentially encouraging sexual activity among children. MP and Now! Party member Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus told Reuters that the bill was a “gesture towards ultra-Catholics and the Church,” and accused the government of promoting a false narrative of “culture and civilizational war” in the country.
PiS legislators have insisted that such concerns are overblown. Marcin Ociepa, a PiS MP, said in a recent radio interview that the bill only prevents teachers and others from encouraging children under 15 “to have sex or to conduct other sexual activities” and that claims that teachers could go to prison were “overinterpretations.”
Bishop Ignacy Dec of Swidnica was recently quoted in a Polish newspaper expressing concern about sex education programs.
“It is worrying that some local authorities are introducing to pre-schools and schools sexualization programs recommended by the World Health Organization, which just harm children and youths,” he said.
The law is due for introduction in the Sejm on Oct. 16 and expected to be considered by the country’s Senate as early as Friday.
The legislation is part of a broader popular effort to remove sex education. More than 200,000 people participated in Marches for Life and Family in 130 cities across Poland in June, in protest of sex education in schools.
The Catholic Church in Poland supported the marches, and the Polish Bishops’ Conference thanked the faithful for participating in the marches at their plenary meeting in June.
According to the conference press office, the bishops “warned against the promotion of ideologies inimical to natural law and Christian values and against the attempts at introducing such ideologies to schools under the guise of sexual education.”
In August, the leader of PiS, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, praised the Archbishop of Krakow for speaking out against attempts to redefine marriage and impose gender ideology in Poland.
Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski, in an August 1 homily on the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, said that “our land is no longer affected by the red plague” of Communism but that a new “rainbow plague” threatens “to control our souls, hearts and minds.”
Earlier this month, Jędraszewski compared the rise of LGBT identitarian politics to Poland’s former communist regime, calling it “the next great threat to our freedom,” and “of a totalitarian nature.” He said that the movement, like that of communism, stems from a “radical rejection of God.”
“As a consequence of this rejection, a new vision of man is being proclaimed in which he becomes a caricature of himself,” said the archbishop.
In June, the Congregation for Catholic Education issued a document titled “Male and Female he Created Them” which discussed the rise of LGBT and gender ideology, saying that they presented “a cultural and ideological revolution driven by relativism” and promoted “the possibility of the individual determining his or her own sexual tendencies without having to take account of the reciprocity and complementarity of male-female relationships, nor of the procreative end of sexuality.”
With regards to school programs on sex and sexuality, the Congregation said that the relationship between parents and school “has entered into crisis.”
“The school must respect the family’s culture. It must listen carefully to the needs that it finds and the expectations that are directed towards it.”