Friday, 14 August 2015

Times: No child’s fairyland
Tuesday, August 4, 2015, 00:01 by Ivan Fenech

Two of the books donated to government schools by the Malta Gay Rights Movement.

When things reach a point where you cannot send your children to school without fear that they may have their minds confused, you know that something has gone terribly wrong with this country’s education system.

Last week, as it has been saying it would do for months, the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) presented books to Education Minister Evarist Bartolo for distribution in government schools, including kindergartens.

According to MGRM chairwoman Gabi Calleja, the books are about diversity in families, which means same-sex relationships. They also include publications on being transgender and ‘coming out’. We are talking about children here.

Bartolo welcomed the books saying they fitted in with the “education for all” approach. With that logic, anyone can donate anything to our schools. In accepting those books, Bartolo is endorsing them.

These publications encourage children to re-examine their sexual identity, to look upon gay couples as a family and to question everything their parents have told them because the books, disguised as children’s books, tell them that there are alternatives, that all is fine whatever you do, because this is a liberal land where everything is relative.

The very fabric of our society is being dismembered in the name of a new ideology called liberalism. Those books are an assault on the traditional family model, our society, our values and most of all on our children’s minds.

No responsible parent can allow his child to read books with disingenuous fairytale-style covers and sugar-coated titles. They confuse our children’s minds.

• Eyebrows were raised some weeks ago when Bartolo and Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli launched what they called a Trans, Gender Variant and Intersex Students in Schools Policy. In simple language, the government wants children to be free to switch gender, switch uniforms to those of the opposite sex, to participate in sports that reflect their perceived sexual identity and yes, to use toilets they feel best comfortable in.

The MGRM chairwoman was there too at the launch to tell us that the policy she helped draft aimed to help studentsto ‘transition’. No one contradicted her when she said that, not even the Civil Liberties Minister who plans to ban ‘gay-to-straight’ therapy.

The government wants to help our children come out, but not the other way around.

Dalli has told representatives of religious organisations that being gay is not a disease and no religious conversion will work. So, she will criminalise it. Freedom under Labour works one-way.

Despite the MGRM’s abrasive way of pushing its agenda, one sympathises with its cause. Gays and trans people must have gone through hell when not so long ago, coming out was a brave affair and society was not so welcoming.

The gay lobby do not want today’s children to go through what they did. That is understandable, but this is not the way to go about it

If the MGRM wants to help gay and trans children cope with their situation, they should use school counsellors, teachers and yes, involve the parents most of all. You do not try to flood schools with gay propaganda in the hope of catching the odd one.

You do not influence the minds of children with alternative sexual lifestyles just in case one of them is gay or trans or whatever else they are called in MGRM’s increasingly confusing vocabulary.

This approach comes across as trying to seek recruits. It makes parents suspicious.

It is also arrogant because the main responsibility lies with the parents who need all the help they can get in such situations. Instead, their role is being undermined. No one, no nanny government masquerading as liberal, has a right to do that; and definitely not the MGRM.

• The gay community won widespread support and sympathy in the run-up to the parliamentary debate on civil unions.

Most people supported the idea that gay couples deserved to regularise their lives, legally, and to freely live their chosen lifestyle.

The debate showed that the country has progressed and matured, that tolerance and acceptance were on the rise.

There could have been a powerful and symbolical united parliamentary vote in favour of civil unions if the Labour Party had not betrayed the gay community and poisoned the process for partisan reasons.

The Bill on civil unions presented by Labour effectively recognised gay marriage and gay adoption. It had no electoral mandate to do that, but it did, because that move put the Opposition in a quandary. The trick initially won Labour many points, but today the country is paying for that irresponsibility.

Having recognised gay couples as families with adoption rights, Labour is now itself in a quandary. It cannot stop the MGRM from rightfully asking for more, including IVF for gay couples, since the law now considers them as a family.

Meanwhile, heterosexual couples are finding it harder to adopt from abroad, because some countries just don’t like the idea of gay unions in Malta.

The guiding principle, or excuse, behind Labour’s continued pandering to the gay community is equality. But it is deluding them because you cannot make equal what is already equal but different. Labour is only fooling gays for their votes.

Through this aggressive promotion of the gay agenda, now even in government schools, the MGRM is doing itself and the cause it represents a great disservice. Maybe it is due to over-enthusiasm, but moves like these breed suspicion.

They are out of order because they cross a red line. Reaching out to children by bypassing parents is the worst move that the gay lobby could have made.

The MGRM must understand that people don’t care what lifestyles gays choose to follow, but they also do not wish to have an ideology imposed upon them or their children.

By Calleja’s own admission, despite the huge strides in legislation, surveys show that discrimination against gays has not lessened in recent years. A cultural change does not happen overnight. It involves much tact, and those books were anything but tactful.

The MGRM will only have itself to blame if it continues to let Labour humour it with false promises and flattery of a fairytale land than can never be.

The Civil Liberties Minister likes to bask in the belief that she is a trailblazer in gay and trans legislation. She appears to take pride in that, as other countries sit back and learn from our mistakes.

Those books should be withdrawn or put in a reserved section for use by professionals.

MGRM runs the risk of not just losing public faith, but of itself provoking homophobia and undermining the many admirable achievements it has made over the years.

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