MEPs write to Polish Minister of Education about Rainbow Friday
On 26 October 2018, Rainbow Friday, a day dedicated to raising awareness about LGBTI rights in schools in Poland, took place for the 3rd consecutive year. Schools who were organising events on this day across the country were subjectf the LGBTI Intergroup write to Polish Minister of Education Anna Zalewska to express their concern about the situation.
TO: Honourable Anna Zalewska
Minister of National Education of Poland
Concerns: pressures on Rainbow Friday
Brussels, 5 November 2018
Honourable Minister of National Education,
We are concerned that a number of schools in Poland have faced pressure to cancel Rainbow Friday, an initiative meant to promote tolerance and help create a more inclusive school environment for LGBTI students.
Various reports in the press and from civil society reached us last week concerning unannounced inspections in schools, initiated by the Ministry of National Education, to check if they were involved in the Rainbow Friday initiative. This is corroborated on the official Twitter account of your Ministry, which refers to Rainbow Friday as possible political agitation and confirms more investigation is ongoing to determine if Rainbow Friday breaches education law.
School is the main place where LGBTI children and youth face discrimination. In the Fundamental Rights Agency’s LGBT survey, 91% of respondents from Poland had heard or seen negative comments or conduct because a schoolmate was perceived to be LGBT. Bullying and violence towards LGBTI students is frequent, and prevents them making the most out of their education. Initiatives such as Rainbow Friday are key to create safer and more inclusion environments for all students, including those who are LGBTI.
Pressures on school staff to cancel initiatives such as Rainbow Friday are an attack to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the human rights of LGBTI people, which are protected by EU law. We are all the more surprised as Rainbow Friday has been going on successfully for three years before, and it the first time the Polish government is raising concerns on its legality.
We therefore would like to enquire how your Ministry will ensure initiatives that promote awareness and respect for universal human rights, such as Rainbow Friday, can continue to take place in Poland, and what your government does to create a safer school environment that safeguards the rights of all students, including those who identify as LGBTI.
Terry Reintke MEP, co-president of the LGBTI Intergroup
Daniele Viotti MEP, co-president of the LGBTI Intergroup
Sophie in’t Veld MEP, vice-president of the LGBTI Intergroup
Fabio Massimo Castaldo MEP, vice-president of the LGBTI Intergroup
Malin Bjork MEP, vice-president of the LGBTI Intergroup
Izaskun Bilbao Barandica MEP
María Dolores Lola Sánchez Caldentey MEP
Julie Ward MEP
Monika Vana MEP
Bart Staes MEP
Jean Lambert MEP
Hilde Vautmans MEP
Isabella Adinolfi MEP
Jean Lambert MEP
Merja Kyllönen MEP
Martina Anderson MEP
Lynn Boylan MEP
Matt Carthy MEP
Liadh Ni Riada MEP
Jill Evans MEP