by di-ve - firstname.lastname@example.org
Local News -- 16 May 2012 -- 17:20CEST
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) and the We Are group said numerous studies continue to demonstrate that a significant percentage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth are victims of bullying due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in the schools they attend.
Tomorrow is the International Day Against Homophobia. The focus for this year's activities around the world is homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in education.
The two organisations said gender discrimination has an impact on the victims' well-being and also affects their school attendance and academic achievement. Schools should be safe spaces for all students and research demonstrates that policies that directly address homo/bi/transphobic bullying do make schools safer.
It is therefore unfortunate that the new National Curriculum Framework currently fails to make any specific reference to issues that most affect LGBT students. This continues to render members of the LGBT communities – students, parents, administrators, teachers, and other staff – invisible in the Maltese education system, they said.
Moreover, while reference is made to the learning environment no mention is made to ensuring the physical and emotional safety of students. MGRM and We Are hold that safety is a precondition for learning and that the absence of any reference to addressing bullying is of grave concern.
"Our educational institutions should be committed to providing each student with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours needed to live in a complex and diverse world. This includes ensuring that any language or behaviour that deliberately degrades, denigrates, labels, stereotypes, incites hatred, prejudice, discrimination, harassment towards students or employees on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identification will not be tolerated and the prohibition of such language and behaviour should be included in student and teacher codes of conduct," they said.
Gabi Calleja, MGRM coordinator, said: "No LGBT student should have to suffer just because of who they are. This means making sure that schools are safe places for all and that the diversity of the student population is reflected in the curriculum."
Luisa Tolu, a member of We Are adds, "Last week, We Are had the chance to speak to students at Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School and one sentiment emerged very clearly from these conversations: that there isn't enough visibility of LGBT issues within our education system and that every student would benefit if they are provided with information about sexual orientation and gender identity from a young age."