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Prawa autorskie: 04.05.2023 Warszawa , ulica Nowogrodzka . Siedziba Prawa i Sprawiedliwosci . Prezes Prawa i Sprawiedliwosci Jaroslaw Kaczynski (L), marszalek Sejmu Elzbieta Witek (P) podczas oswiadczenia prezesa Prawa i Sprawidliwosci Jaroslawa Kaczynskiego i marszalek Sejmu Elzbiety Witek na temat spolecznego projektu ustawy chroniacego przed '' seksualizacja dzieci '' przygotowanego przez inicjatywe '' Chronmy dzieci Wspierajmy rodzicow ''. Fot. Slawomir Kaminski / Agencja Wyborcza.pl04.05.2023 Warszawa ...

The election campaign is approaching, so the PiS chairman is reaching out for the weapon he has already been regularly brandishing. ‘Stay away from our children!’ Jarosław Kaczyński threatened LGBT+ people in March 2019. Today, he wants to fight against ‘various forms of strange ideas’, which are supposed to lead to the sexualization of children.

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Elżbieta Witek echoes him. The Marshal of the Sejm has become the face of the allegedly civic campaign titled ‘Let’s protect the children, let’s support parents’.

What precisely are these ‘strange ideas’? This is an unknown; there is no point looking for the bill that Witek and Kaczyński signed. It is known that it is supposed to amend the education law. It envisages increased control over social organizations operating in schools, the strengthening of parent councils and the prohibition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from conducting sex education without the consent of the parents.

PiS is already organizing campaign events around the bill. Senators and MPs are signing it; signatures were being collected during the May Day holiday. Videos on TikTok have their first tens of thousands of views. A video in which Elżbieta Witek announces that she will be protecting children from pornographic content has already been viewed by 21,000 people on TikTok.

‘This is a citizen’s bill, a bottom-up bill’ and ‘it’s about protecting the children’ repeated Kaczyński and Elżbieta Witek at the conference at ul. Nowogrodzka.

Both statements are false political incantations.

The slogan ‘Let’s protect the children!’ promises to be one of the boosters of the PiS election campaign. PiS used to use abstract children to fight real children – LGBT people. Now it is just as cynically exploiting the actual mental crisis of Polish children and youths. It is using children as a bat in the campaign when real dramas are unfolding in schools and homes.

Kaczynski’s bottom-up citizen’s bill?

‘This is about the sexualization of children. And even very small children, as young as of nursery school age.’ On 4 May 2023, Jarosław Kaczyński declared at the PiS headquarters on ul. Nowogrodzka that he was signing a citizens’ bill which is supposed to protect Polish children from sexualization. Elżbieta Witek had already signed the bill on 19 April, and he is now adding his signature.

What precisely have they signed? This is unknown. There is no way the bill can be found in the depths of the Internet.

Even so, they have been repeating that it is a citizens’ bill, a ‘bottom-up initiative’. ‘Not from politicians, but from parents,’ boasted Kaczyński. Who actually initiated it – we do not know. However, the more often the word ‘citizens’ came out of Kaczyński’s mouth, the funnier it sounded.

Marshal Witek has been the official patron of the bill for the past two weeks. She is patronising it so intensely that there are already videos featuring her on TikTok. They are being released from the PiS account and with a logo, the colour and form of which perfectly matches the PiS logo.

PiS MPs, senators and councillors have been collecting signatures for over a week. The PiS Youth Forum is also collecting signatures.

It is worth adding that Ordo Iuris used the slogan ‘Let’s protect the children’ in its 2017 anti-LGBT campaign.

‘Various types of strange ideas’

This is about children,’ repeated Jarosław Kaczyński at ul. Nowogrodzka. Actually, this is about the instrumental use of parental fears, the battle against NGOs, control of unruly teachers and headmasters. But primarily about the elections and authority.

In a speech lasting several minutes, Kaczyński used many words to say nothing specific. The bill he signed is supposed to be about ensuring that children ‘are not subjected to practices that are certainly harmful to them’. What practices? This is unknown. These practices (it is not clear which ones) are supposed to lead to ‘far-reaching psychological changes’ and to ‘various types of difficulty’. Sounds worrying. And that is how it is supposed to sound. And yet we still don’t know what this is about.

Eventually, however, the word came out: ‘It’s about the sexualization of children,’ announces Chairman Kaczyński. ‘And even very small children, as young as of nursery school age.’ What are they doing to these children in nursery schools? How are they ‘sexualizing’ them? And who is doing it? ‘Practices of this kind are taking place in Poland at this very moment,’ says Kaczyński. But what practices? We shall never know. ‘Various types of strange ideas, which we cannot comment on here, but in our opinion are quite strange, cannot be implemented at the expense of children.’ We won’t say what it is, but we shall prohibit it.

Why doesn’t Kaczyński say what he means? Perhaps he is reticent because when he went into the specifics, he became the laughing stock of the internet and activists from his own party said he was causing it damage? Like when he said that young women ‘are on the bottle’ and that’s why they aren’t having children.

Or perhaps he is avoiding being specific, because just the use of the word ‘sexualization’ is enough to incite the imagination of the listeners. Especially since, for years, PiS and Kaczyński have been laying the path along which the thoughts triggered by this word are supposed to run.

Password: sexualization. Response: LGBT+

This is the old song of PiS politicians and pro-government media: ‘LGBT is going into schools to sexualize our children’. Sexualization? That’s worrying!

Raison d’état of the youth

On the other hand, Marshal Witek did not avoid the specifics. First of all, she presented an anecdote about a mother who started to cry because one of the games at her son’s nursery school involved boys dressing up as girls and girls as boys.

Secondly, Witek spoke about the problems of the contemporary world: ‘We are bombarded in the media with information about aggression, peer aggression. Young people have unlimited access to the internet, which has harmful content affecting their mental health,’ says Witek, who boasts that she has a teacher’s qualifications.

‘Children are often lonely, they are confronted with vulgar, obscene information in the internet, they absorb it and don’t know what to do with these emotions. Children are also over-sexualized,’ she said. The conclusion? ‘The future, the physical and mental condition of our children is the Polish raison d’état.’

Witek has fashioned her speech on PiS’s slogans and sentences that have been circulating around almost every Polish medium for many months now – because the mental crisis of children and youths is a headline topic, although not of the pro-government media.

Ironically, the most extensive research on the subject was conducted not by any government institution, but by an NGO – the Martyna Wojciechowska Foundation.

Young people do not accept themselves and their bodies, they self-mutilate, they are victims of hate speech and admit they participate in hate speech, they feel lonely.

Witek, Kaczyński and the campaigners found one simple explanation for all these problems: sexualization.

Witek pressed the buttons that can easily play on parents’ fears about real-life issues. Interestingly, Marshal Witek took part in a meeting with doctors, teachers and representatives of NGOs in April. At that meeting, she must have heard about the dramatic lack of psychological and psychiatric help in schools. She might have even have heard about the need for in-depth digital and sex education, which protects against at least some violent behaviour.

Youths have become Poland’s raison d’état six months before the campaign. It had not been one over the eight years of the PiS government, when funding for child psychiatry needed to be increased.

Lex Czarnek for the third time?

‘The bill will also include provisions prohibiting organizations promoting gender and LGBT ideology from entering schools without the consent of the parents,’ wrote Senator Maria Koc on her social media profile, boasting that she had joined the ‘Let’s Protect the Children’ campaign.

We could not find the content of the bill.

In fact, PiS MP Zbigniew Chmielowiec posted the greatest amount of information about what the bill contains on his Facebook profile.

Main assumptions of the bill:

  • Before allowing a social organization to operate at a given establishment, the headmaster will be required to obtain detailed information about its planned activity at the school, which, in turn, will be checked by both the headmaster and the school council, as well as the parents’ council.
  • The parents’ council will be able to inspect and monitor the activities of NGOs which are active at the school or educational establishment and to inform parents about the results of the monitoring.
  • The role of the parents will be strengthened with regard to their child’s participation in activities run by organizations operating at the school. The activities may be attended upon receipt of written consent from the parents or, in the case of an adult pupil, that pupil’s written consent.
  • The activities of associations and other organizations promoting issues related to the sexualization of children at state nursery schools and primary schools will be prohibited without these formalities and parental consent.
  • The proposed changes meet public expectations and do not entail any budgetary burdens. They will strengthen the position and voice of parents on the parents’ council and allow them to effectively object to undesirable content addressed to their children. Parents currently have very limited opportunities to do so.’

This is reminiscent of the provisions of the so-called lex Czarnek Act, which was repeated twice, as well as President Andrzej Duda’s bill of 2020 on parental referendums.

Not surprisingly, Minister Przemysław Czarnek is already promoting the ‘Let’s Protect the Children’ bill.

‘But it hurts that we are stopping the march of the leftist ideologies through Polish schools. Two bills vetoed, for different reasons. This time, a citizens’ initiative supported in the #ChrońmyDzieci [#Let’sProtecttheChildren] campaign. Because you should seriously be feared’ he wrote on Twitter after Kaczyński’s and Witek’s speeches.

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Agata Szczęśniak

Redaktorka, publicystka. Współzałożycielka i wieloletnia wicenaczelna Krytyki Politycznej. Pracowała w „Gazecie Wyborczej”. Socjolożka, studiowała też filozofię i stosunki międzynarodowe. Uczy na Uniwersytecie SWPS. W radiu TOK FM prowadzi audycję „Jest temat!” W OKO.press pisze o mediach, polityce polskiej i zagranicznej oraz prawach kobiet.

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