LGBTQ+ Community in Poland

This reflection post discuses LGBTQ+ issues within Poland and how educators can act as an ally for this particular community. The context of Poland was chosen because this is one country I hope to work in one day (esp. the city of Warsaw). When I think of Warsaw, the history of Poland and my personal experience in the country, an image of a black phoenix rising from the fire and ashes always comes to mind.  This symbolism or imagery of the bird and situation speaks so strongly to myself and I believe this image can resonate with many others, especially for individuals within the LGBTQ+ community. The black rising phoenix can be interpreted in many ways but meaning and symbolism behind the image is up to the eye of the beholder.

Some rights are the same for LGBTQ+ individuals within Poland, such as gay and bisexual men are allowed to donate blood or serve openly in the Polish Armed Forces. Also, individuals are able to legally change their legal gender after receiving hormone replacement therapy. However, there is still much work to be done to fight for social justice, right and equality for LGBTQ+ and all individuals.  Currently there are no protections or policies in place related to health services, hate speech or crimes. Same sex marriage is not legalized within Poland, or in 2012 limited rights were granted for same sex marriages and civil partnerships.  Out of the countries within the EU, Poland faces some of the most discrimination and injustice social policy compared to the EU partnered countries. Anti-gay attacks, slurs and discrimination are still considered legal and is not represented as a hate crime.

“In 2016, parliament rejected a bill that would have included gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and age as potential grounds for a “hate crime.” (Roache, TIME Magazine).

Kucharczyk from the Institute of Public Affairs says there’s a “refusal to recognize that LGBTQ people need to be protected”. Hate speech and actions are not only represented at the individual level but can be found within Polish mainstream media. According to some, homophobia is still on the rise within the government and local press. As Biedron puts it, “Polish people have long been surrounded by information saying that homosexuality is a disease that can cause brain damage.” Media and imagery still represent individuals of this community as less than and local citizens still believe it.

Although the country hosts Pride and other events that demonstrate affiliation and alliance with this community, unfortunately Poland still has a long road ahead in order to promote social equality and policy for all.  This group and individuals are still systematically excluded and suppressed. As more events take place, which demonstrate the support for this community, the backlash and prejudice continues to rise from the right winged politicians and some members of the Catholic Church.  Polish police are not required to report any hate crimes or activity against minorities. Similar to America, you can find allies and members of this group demonstrating their support by having rainbow flags, apparel and gear.  However, attending pride parades and carrying rainbow decorated materials is not enough.  The call to abolish hate speech and discrimination within Poland for the LGTBQ+ community is still ringing loud.

One-way language and other educators can help and support the LGBTQ+ community is by increasing education and awareness of the issue’s individuals in this community face.  The earlier the age a student is addressed with this type of knowledge and education, hopefully the more tolerant the youth and future societies will be; this will then hopefully decrease acts of discrimination and hate speech targeted towards this community. Educators creating and developing an inclusive classroom for any and all students is another way to decrease homophobia and discrimination.  Part of building an inclusive environment is being aware and cognizant of the vocabulary, terms and usage within the LGBTQ+ community.  By having this type of knowledge, this will serve an individual to be a more effective supporter and more likely to engage in conversation.   Another alternative serving the LGBTQ+ community within educational contexts it to fully understand, integrate and adhere to students’ rights and policies.  If a certain policy is not targeted towards equality or social justice, then a voice should be raised to address the issues at hand in hopes of expansion and reconfiguration of policy.  Other routes to being an ally and helping this community is by preventing bullying for all. LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to suffer harassment, bullying and targeted acts of violence, compared to their peers.  The six following steps can be taken in order to prevent bullying in educational contexts:

  • Trust your students
  • Inform administration
  • Be there to listen and not speak
  • Be aware of current resources and connect students to the resources
  • Be in the know or stay aware of situations or issues taking place
  • Intervene personally or with a 3rd party

Another alternative to acting as an ally for this group is to be a part of gay-straight alliance organizations or create and promote these groups.  The main goal of these type of groups is to empower the members to be leaders and advocates to fight for social justice and equality in and outside educational and community settings.

Lastly, a prominent or effective methods to act as an ally is to create LGBTQ+ inclusive curricula.  This type of curriculum can benefit any type of student regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  By creating this type of inclusive space, this allows for LGBTQ+ individuals to be empowered to share their voice, thoughts and opinions around certain subjects. This curriculum also increases education and awareness while promoting acceptance of all in or outside the class.  The following table highlights various techniques or ways an educator can incorporate LGTBQ+ themes or topics into the lesson.

Joshua Nesmith

8 Responses to “LGBTQ+ Community in Poland

  • Maya Sykes
    7 months ago

    Josh, thank you for sharing information on Poland’s LGBTQ+ stance. For some reason, I viewed Poland as a more liberal and open country. But after reading your reflection it made me think about going beyond the surface view of a country and its projected image.

    Do you know of any Polish organizations that fight legal battles for the LGBTQ+ community? Have there been in successes?

    • Joshua Nesmith
      7 months ago

      Maya,

      Thank you for your response. You bring up such an important point of viewing situations beyond the surface. I think as educators, we have to keep this in mind and try to understand as many varying perspectives as we can when it comes to complicated issues. When it comes to Polish organizations, I definitely think there are some within the country. However, the organizations might be related to the EU more than just this single country.

  • keyue Song
    7 months ago

    Hello, Josh. Thank you for sharing about Poland and your suggestions on how to become an ally. I agree that building trust and being supportive as a teacher/friend is essential for the class to cultivate an inclusive environment. I am interested in the table you shared about the resources and methods of including LGBTQ+ themes at school. Where did you get this table? How is its affordance in the school context(s) in Poland? If you are to introduce one of the materials or activities to your class in Poland, what will be the biggest supportive and challenging parts? How will you adapt the activities to the Poland context(s)?

    • Hi Josh,
      I concur Keyue- could you give us the source for this table?

      • Joshua Nesmith
        7 months ago

        If you click on the table or image, I set up a hyperlink and it will take you directly to the source.

    • Joshua Nesmith
      7 months ago

      Keyue,

      If you click on the table or image, I set up a hyperlink and it will take you directly to the source. There are also some other helpful teaching resources related to social justice. The affordance of the materials would be challenging in most schools of this context. I think it would be easier to utilize this type of materials in 1 on 1 tutoring or private institution courses. I think the most challenging aspect of using these materials and activities would be facing institution based policy that strictly prohibit discussion of this subject as they believe it would be promoting LGBTQ+ activity. I think this best way to adapt the activities to this context in Poland is to discuss and bring up issues that have occurred or are occurring within this context. It will be authentic and factual and something the students can hopefully relate to more, being so close to home.

  • Xinxin Liu
    7 months ago

    Hi Josh,

    Thank you for sharing this informative post about the LGBTQ+ current situation in Poland. As Maya said, this also reminds me to “go beyond the surface view of a country and its projected image”. I think sometimes, we are just too quick on setting the impression in our minds about an unfamiliar concept/fact.
    I like how your discussion of “early age education can shape students’ understanding”, so early input about inclusion can contribute to decreasing discrimination and hate speech.
    The table you shared is very useful, I am wondering what your thoughts on different levels of education adopt different themes and methods.

    • Joshua Nesmith
      7 months ago

      Xinxin,

      Thank you for your comments, from our leadership courses and the reaction statements, we know that many leaders are so quick to react before fully understanding situations or contexts at hand. I think this is why action research and transformative leadership is so important to social justice awareness and education.

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