Politics For Members

Fact check: Does the far-right in Austria really want to ban sweatpants in schools?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected] • 18 May, 2023 Updated Thu 18 May 2023 09:27 CEST
Fact check: Does the far-right in Austria really want to ban sweatpants in schools?
Pictured is a classroom (Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash)

Occasionally, members of the far-right party FPÖ make headlines for their extreme demands - most recently, for a ban on wearing sweatpants in schools. Here are three seemingly random things they want to outlaw in Austria.


Ban on sweatpants in schools

In a turn of the political agenda in Vienna, the far-right party FPÖ has sparked controversy by calling for a ban on jogging pants in schools.

The demand, put forward by Maximilian Krauss, the youth spokesperson and club chairman of the Viennese FPÖ, has stirred up heated debates. According to Krauss, "a school is a place of achievement where respectful interaction with one another should come first".

"Appropriate clothing is also part of this. In addition, children and young people should be prepared in school for their future professional life. So, sweatpants in physical education and leisure time, yes; in general school lessons, no", he said in a press release sent out over the weekend.

READ ALSO: What measures against foreigners is Austria’s far-right trying to take?

According to the politician, the Viennese FPÖ plans to submit a motion to this effect at the next municipal council. The Local reached out to the FPÖ press office for further comment, but the group declined to comment further. 

The Freedom Party is currently part of the opposition in the Austrian capital, and it's unlikely that a controversial motion such as this would gather much support from other parties.

Banning languages other than German during school breaks

However, the FPÖ is not an opposition party in Lower Austria, where it became part of the coalition as a junior member with the centre-right ÖVP after the elections in Austria's largest province.

There, the party caused controversy early this year when it defended the "compulsory use of German in the schoolyard", a proposal still being considered by the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition despite criticism by language experts. The alliance is trying to enforce German during school breaks (Pausensprache Deutsch) via the "house rules" instituted by schools. Schools would have to intervene when children have private conversations with their friends during a break in a language other than German to ask them to swap.


Pedagogs, linguists, and school staff have called the measure "nonsense" and unfeasible. However, FPÖ state representatives defend the proposal.

"School time is the last period where the state can influence the integration of young people. We, therefore, do not understand why the demand for a common language in school is causing an uproar," said Lower Austria FPÖ regional party secretary Michael Gruber.

He added: "There are already school classes in which there are no children whose native language is German. Do we just want to accept that? Integration starts with the language. For us, it's a sign of respect and solidarity when students speak German."

Drag Queen Brigitte Bandit reads a book during a story time reading at the Cheer Up Charlies dive bar on March 11, 2023 in Austin, Texas. In Austria, the far-right has also opposed events with drag queens reading children's books. (Photo by Brandon Bell / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Ban children's readings by drag queens

Again the far-right teamed up with the ÖVP, this time in Vienna and with a bid to ban drag queen readings for children in the Austrian capital.

The parties argue that such performances are detrimental to the well-being and innocence of young minds, accusing the shows of promoting what they refer to as "transgender madness".

FPÖ party leader Dominik Nepp recently strongly voiced his concerns about the alleged negative impact of drag queen shows on children. Nepp contended that it was crucial to protect children from exposure to what he referred to as the "lustful" behaviour exhibited by drag queens.


"This transgender insanity is increasingly spilling over from the USA to Europe," reads a statement from Vienna's far-right leader Dominik Nepp. There needs to be "massive resistance to this sexualisation propaganda for young children," he said.

READ ALSO: Why is support for Austria’s far-right FPÖ rising?

The joint effort by the FPÖ and ÖVP to ban drag queen shows for children has sparked intense reactions. Supporters argue that protecting children from what they perceive as potentially inappropriate content is a valid concern, emphasising the need to "preserve innocence" and traditional values.

Critics have said that the proposed ban infringes upon freedom of expression and perpetuates discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. They argue that drag queen shows can be a form of artistic expression and foster inclusivity and acceptance.

Stephane Magloire, an organiser of readings by drag queens and drag kings for children ("Drag Storytime"), has assured the online portal BuzzFeed that there is no need to panic.

READ ALSO: Is Austria’s Freedom Party a ‘far-right’ party?

"It's unfortunate that in 2023, the queer community and our artistic expressions are so often misunderstood and labelled taboo, even though drag has historically been present in all art forms worldwide."


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also