Thursday, 17 May 2012

Malta Today: LGBT issues should be included in education framework

MGRM and We Are appeal for LGBT issues to be included in National Curriculum Framework in Malta to reduce bullying in schools.
Wednesday 16 May 2012 - 17:20

Members of the LGBT communities including students, parents, administrators, teachers, and other staff, continue to remain invisible in the Maltese education system.

The Malta Gay Rights Movment (MGRM) and We Are said that it was unfortunate that the new National Curriculum Framework in Malta still fails to make any specific reference to issues that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.

"This continues to render members of the LGBT communities, students, parents, administrators, teachers, and other staff, invisible in the Maltese education system. Schools should be safe places for all students and the groups said that research demonstrates that policies directly addressing homo/bi/transphobic bullying do make schools safer," the two groups said in a statement today.  

MGRM and We Are commemorated International Day Against Homophobia which is to be celebrated tomorrow, 17 May.

"Adverts from MGRM's 'Think before You Speak: Making Life Better for LGBT Youth Campaign' will be displayed on a number of newspapers on the day. The University LGBT group We Are will also be holding a 'Flowers of Friendship' event on campus, distributing flowers to students and both activities are being supported by the US Embassy," MGRM and We Are said in a joint statement.

Global activities on the day will this year be focusing on homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in education.

"Numerous studies continue to demonstrate that a significant percentage of LGBT youth are victims of bullying due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in the schools they frequent. This has an impact on their well-being and also effects their school attendance and academic achievement," the groups said.

While reference is made to the learning environment within the National Curriculum Framework, there is no mention of ensuring the physical and emotional safety of students.

MGRM and We Are said 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 expresses any form of offence towards students or employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identification should not be tolerated. The prohibition of such language and behaviour should be included in student and teacher Codes of Conduct," MGRM and We Are 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," MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja said.

Member of We Are Luisa Tolu said that after speaking to students at Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School, it was evident to them that LGBT issues are not visible.

"There isn't enough visibility of LGBT issues within our education system and every student would benefit if they are provided with information about sexual orientation and gender identity from a younger age," Tolu said.

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