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 Full text 
Monday, 21 October 2019 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

Criminalisation of sexual education in Poland (debate)

  Frances Fitzgerald (PPE). – Mr President, two weeks ago in Brussels, I met with a group of young girls as part of the Girls Speak Out week in the Parliament. I spoke to them about sexual education and consent in the countries they were from and the type of education they had received in school. Not one of them was able to say to me that they had received comprehensive sex education. We have a long way to go across the Union in relation to this. If we in Europe are to ensure gender equality – real equality – where women, girls, men and boys, understand their value, worth and responsibilities, we need to progress sexual education, not hamper it. We must educate our young people.

As I know well from Ireland, it is rather a lack of education, as opposed to education, that results in alarming and unexpected consequences. And what consequences they are. Development of healthy relationships is hampered, awareness of what constitutes sexual abuse is stifled, and fundamentally it does a disservice to the youth in Europe by denying them the right of information, a fundamental of our democracy.

As regards the proposal that to teach young people about sexual education would be akin to promoting paedophilia, I say absolute nonsense. In fact, sexual education can heighten young people’s understanding and therefore make them more aware of what constitutes sexual abuse and protect them. To deny young people the opportunity of such an education makes them vulnerable, not just at that moment, but actually throughout their lives.

Fundamentally, this proposal will not, and cannot, achieve its true aim to reduce the numbers of young people engaging in sexual activity. Rather, we must encourage young people to be careful and responsible should they make a choice to do so. The only way to do that is through thorough and comprehensive sexual education. I would urge the Polish government not to progress in this manner and not to proceed in this manner.

Last updated: 5 November 2019Legal notice