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Controversy erupts over 'school individuals' appear in Prime Minister's Office social media post

Controversy erupts over 'school individuals' appear in Prime Minister's Office social media post

Image source: © East News, X
Konrad SiwikKonrad Siwik,25.06.2024 10:45

The term 'school individuals' (Polish: ‘osoby uczniowskie’) has been removed from the Prime Minister's Office's Facebook post following a deluge of hate speech in the comments section. The congratulations on the end of the school year are now addressed to "female and male pupils". This situation illustrates that "Poland is not yet ready" to accommodate the expectations of non-binary individuals.

On 21 June, a post on Prime Minister Donald Tusk's office's official Facebook page congratulating students on the end of the school year ignited significant controversy. The use of a non-binary term attracted a wave of criticism, prompting a revision of the post's content.

The Prime Minister's Office initially posted, "We congratulate all school individuals and wish them safe and memorable summer holidays."

What was intended as a simple expression of congratulations quickly evolved into a heated social media debate. The Prime Minister’s Office’s use of the term 'school individual' faced immediate backlash. Accusations of 'gendered newspeak' and 'excessive political correctness' emerged in the comments. Critical voices were raised on Facebook, X, and far-right websites.

The Prime Minister's Office changed 'school individuals' to 'female and male pupils'

Comments under the post were soon dominated by hostile rhetoric. Users expressed their displeasure, claiming that the use of non-binary language was an "unnecessary and ideologically motivated intervention". Among the criticisms were more extreme opinions accusing the government of "promoting ‘gender ideology’" and "destroying traditional values". Right-wing websites reported on the "fiasco of Prime Minister Donald Tusk's team". The haters achieved their goal.

Under pressure from critics, the Prime Minister's Office decided to revise the post. The new version reads, "We congratulate all female and male pupils and wish them safe and memorable summer holidays."

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The online community quickly noticed the decision to change the content. Catholic influencer Natalia Ruś, known as Najjjka, commented on the situation on X.

"First they wrote 'school individuals' and then suddenly changed it, probably because of the multitude of bad comments under this post," suspects Najjjka.

The importance of inclusive language for non-binary people

The use of the term 'school individuals' was intended as a gesture from the Prime Minister’s Office towards young non-binary people who do not explicitly identify as male or female. It is part of a broader initiative to increase awareness and acceptance of people from the LGBT community, particularly those who are gender fluid.

With the Civic Coalition taking over, the Ministry of Education has started to pay more attention to the needs of young people from the LGBT community. Education Minister Barbara Nowacka is known for supporting such initiatives, emphasising the importance of inclusivity in education and public spaces. Nowacka has repeatedly stressed that schools should be places free from discrimination, where every student, regardless of their gender identity, feels safe and accepted.

Reactions to the change in the content of the post were mixed. Some commenters expressed relief that the Prime Minister’s Office had backed away from using non-binary language, viewing it as a ‘return to normality'. Others, however, saw the removal of non-binary language as a step backwards in the fight for LGBT rights and acceptance.

The issue of the Prime Minister's Office's Facebook post also has a broader political context. The introduction of inclusive language is one of the promises the Civic Coalition made during the elections. After taking power, it pledged to support minorities and promote equality.

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