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Poland: Director of teacher training centre sacked over LGBT inclusive language in manual on human rights education

Education International has written to the Polish minister of national education, Roman Giertych, following the dismissal of Miroslaw Sielatycki, Director of the National In-Service Teacher Training Center (CODN).

EI have learned that Sielatycki was dismissed because the contents of a manual on human rights education, COMPASS, commissioned by the Council of Europe and published by CODN states that same-sex relationships are equal to the matrimonial relations between a woman and a man. EI calls for the repeal of Sielatycki’s dismissal and for Poland to develop education policies promoting tolerance and respect. The contents of EI’s letter are available below: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Minister of National Education Mr. Roman Giertych Ministerstwo Edukacji Narodowej Al. Szucha 25 00-918 Warszawa Polska Fax: +48 22 694-68-26 Brussels, 20 June 2006 Dear Sir, Education International, the world federation of education unions representing over 29 million teachers and education workers in 166 countries and territories, expresses its serious concern at the recent dismissal of the Director of the National In-Service Teacher Training Center (CODN), Miroslaw Sielatycki. We are of the opinion that the dismissal is not in compliance with international standards, particularly those pertaining to the professional and acadamic freedom of members of the teaching profession as laid down in the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel (1997). According to information provided to EI by Human Rights Watch and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Miroslaw Sielatycki has been dismissed because of the contents of a manual on human rights education, COMPASS, commissioned by the Council of Europe. The manual states inter alia that same-sex relationships are equal to the matrimonial relations between a woman and a man. We understand that the CODN is a state-funded agency assigned to support the development of a national system of teacher training. We wish to remind you that in addition to the above international recommendations, which protect the professional freedom of all persons engaged in the development of teachers’ training programs, Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty spells out clearly all the forms of discrimination which are not to be tolerated within the EU member states: these include "sex, racial or ethnic religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation". In addition, the Council Directive 2000/78/EC, which establishes a general framework for employment and occupation, provides specific protection for employees against discrimination due to their sexual orientation. The dismissal of an official for publishing a teacher resource manual respecting these anti-discrimination directives cannot be justified. The eradication of all kinds of discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, is a means of building peaceful societies based on diversity and inclusion. Schools are places where children should learn tolerance. This letter is also to express our concern about the perceived homophobic attitude of the Polish government. Last year, EI and civil rights organisations protested against the ban of the "Warszawa Parade for Equal Rights" (Parady Równoœci) scheduled to take place in Warsaw on June 11, 2005. In recent days, various human rights organisations have voiced concern about homophobic statements made by government officials. According to reports, you yourself declared that: "There is no room for homosexual activism within the school system in Poland on my watch." Education International urges you to repeal the above dismissal, to stop making homophobic statements and to start developing education policies promoting tolerance and respect for the human rights of all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation. Education International is prepared to give advice on these matters and to share with you our knowledge and experience. Please note that the following Polish organisations are affiliated to Education International: Zwiazek Nauczycielstwa Polskiego (ZNP), the National Education Section NSZZ Solidarnosc and the National Science Section NSZZ Solidarnosc. Awaiting your response, I remain, Sincerely yours, Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary c.c.: Prime Minister of Poland, Mr. Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz President ZNP, Mr. Slavomir Broniarz, Warsaw President National Education Section NSZZ Solidarnosc, Mr. Stefan Kubowicz, Gdansk President National Science Section NSZZ Solidarnosc, Mr. Janusz Sobieszczanski, Gdansk Secretary General Council of Europe, Strasburg Commission of the European Union, Brussels Committee of Experts on the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation on the Status of Teachers, Geneva

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