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"Stop dressing like whores!" : discourses in Polish Sexuality Education

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Title: "Stop dressing like whores!" : discourses in Polish Sexuality Education
Author(s): Sarmela, Saana
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Degree program: Master's Programme in European and Nordic Studies
Specialisation: Social Sciences Study Track
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2021
The purpose of this thesis is to study discourses in sexuality education in Polish schools 2009-2016. Polish sexuality education is an abstinence-based education influenced by Poland's Catholic Church and its moral views as it is holding an influential position due to constitutional alliance with the state of Poland. In 2012 the Catholic Church launched the so-called “anti-gender” campaign in which gender was considered a threat to traditional family values and a source of perversion. Conservatives frequently propagated the dangers of gender towards children to parents as presented as a threat to the Polish nation. This study examines why gender stereotypes, homophobia, and disinformation are promoted, and secondly, how the anti-gender campaign has impacted Polish sexuality education. The theoretical framework consists of central conceptions and Foucault's theory on biopower, according to which sexuality can be regulated and used as power strategies. This study is a qualitative study, as the research material consists of texts, documents, and media articles. The methodology for this study consists of content analysis, specifically data-driven content analysis, and critical discourse analysis, to evaluate observations from the data. The power strategies of biopower strongly supported my analysis and created a theoretical entity. Critical discourse analysis has been used as a background method to reveal power asymmetries from the research data. The results of this study were on a practical level that the sexuality education classes were poorly organized as it is treated as a secondary subject. Many of the teachers were incompetent to teach sexuality education who intentionally or unintentionally shared their personal views with the students. Some teachers were priests whose worldview was religious, promoting Catholic views in the classes. On a societal level, sexuality education was impacted by the Catholic Church, whose influence on educational policy was significant with the purpose of maintaining traditional social order and gender roles. Nonetheless, gender inequalities and negative attitudes towards sexual minorities exist in many Polish society domains, affecting the moral atmosphere and the teaching of sexuality education within the lack of will of conducting a proper curriculum. The anti-gender campaign affected sexuality education by making the concept of teaching gender in schools challenging or even impossible. Negative attitudes towards sexuality education increased in fear of gender making Polish children sexual and therefore endangering Polish future and values. The weaknesses of democracy and women's and LGBTQ+ movements, the Church's exceptional influence on society, and the strength of nationalist movements were all enablers of the anti-gender campaign.
Keyword(s): seksuaalivähemmistöt sukupuolentutkimus katolilaisuus biovalta seksuaalikasvatus sukupuolistereotypiat seksuaalivähemmistöt

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