Friday, October 16, 2015, 07:14 by Keith Micallef
[Click on the hyperlink above to watch the Video by Mark Zammit Cordina]
Textbooks donated to the government a few weeks ago by a gay lobby group will not be distributed to pupils, the Education Minister said yesterday.
“I don’t blame parents who have expressed concern on this matter but I want to assure them that these books have not and will not be distributed to their children,” Evarist Bartolo said.
The Education Minister made this assurance in the wake of criticism that State schools were being used for “gender indoctrination” by the Malta Gay Rights Movement. In July the MGRM donated several copies of 14 publications to the Education Ministry, focusing on different forms of families and same-sex relationships.
These included three publications on trans children and another three about coming out, as well as audiovisual material for teachers. At the time it was said that these books would be distributed in State schools.
Some parents who felt that the State was imposing certain values and beliefs on their children joined forces and created a Facebook group called ‘Parents and teachers against gender indoctrination of our children in schools’ which already has 6,000 members.
In a statement the ministry denied it had distributed these books or that there had been changes in the teaching of sexual education during regular personal, social and career development (PSCD) lessons.
Asked to explain further, the Education Minister yesterday stressed that there were no plans to give these publications to students as part of their curriculum.
He noted that they had only been donated about 100 books. These represented a “drop in the ocean” when compared to the total student population of 45,000, the minister said.
“The aim is not to turn children gay or lesbian but to eradicate stereotypes and certain prejudices against them,” the Education Minister said.
He added that these books had been kept at the ministry, in case teachers needed to refer to them when coming across certain situations.
However, Ivan Grech Mintoff from the Facebook group said their campaign was not solely about these books, but against “a wider agenda being driven by the MGRM”.
“We have nothing against LGBT people, but we cannot accept that a minority imposes its agenda on our children, to the point that we cannot educate them according to our beliefs,” he said.
Mr Grech Mintoff added that there was a campaign in State schools to indoctrinate children to believe they were neither a boy nor a girl, as this was something on which they could decide.
Asked to corroborate his claims he said that several parents had already complained that certain ideas being promoted during PSCD lessons reflected such views.
'BOOKS SHOULD AT LEAST BE AVAILABLE IN SCHOOL LIBRARIES'
LGBTI+ Gozo said in a statement that when the MGRM donated the books, it was stated that they would be distributed in state schools.
It said that what the minister failed to mention was that by distributing these books children who felt they were different would still feel like they belonged.
LGBTI+ Gozo said that although those who formed part of the Facebook group ‘Parents and teachers against gender indoctrination of our children in schools’ had the right to express their opinion, they should not limit others.
“By distributing these books not only children would feel integrated but we would be moving forward towards a society were bullying, discrimination and prejudice would be almost diminished, as we would be teaching our children about tolerance and respect.
“The distribution of these books would help not only children who are trans or have a different sexual orientation but it would also teach other children and even parents that there are different families out there.
“We need to teach our children that even though there might be families that are made up of same sex parents, they are still normal families.”
LGBTI+ Gozo emphasised that if the books were not distributed in schools they should at least be available in school libraries.
“The government should invest in purchasing more books like the ones donated by the MGRM and distribute them around schools, this will help even teachers’ deal with certain situation,” it said.