LGBTIQ-friendly books help children feel included, 'teach tolerance and respect'

Education Ministry’s U-turn on distribution of gay-friendly books leaves doors open for more discrimination, bullying

LGBTI+ Gozo has expressed concern over the Education Ministry’s decision not to distribute gay-friendly books to students.

In July, the Malta Gay Rights Movement donated several copies of 14 publications to the Education Ministry, focusing on different forms of families and same-sex relationships.

The books were designed to promote acceptance and tolerance among students and to help teachers and parents. 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. Addressing a joint press conference with the MGRM, Evarist Bartolo – a few months ago – had said that he government was in favour of this measure as it is in line with its “education for all principle”.

“NGOs drive institutions towards the needs of civil society and we hope that this measure will become widespread across all public schools in time," Bartolo had said. “Education should be such that it is as inclusive and diversified as possible.”

A Facebook page was set up by ‘parents and teachers against gender indoctrination of our children in schools’.

Bartolo recently said the books would not be distributed as “they were a drop in the ocean compared to the total student population”. However, the books were kept at the Education Ministry “in case teachers need to refer to them”.

“What the minister failed to mention was that by distributing these books children who feel they are different would still feel like they belong, and not feel excluded by society,” LGBTI+ Gozo said.

“Although those who are forming part of the Facebook group have the right to express their opinion, they shouldn’t limit others.”

The NGO said that by distributing these books not only children would feel integrated but society would be moving further away from bullying, discrimination and prejudice.

“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 said that the books should at least be available in school libraries while urging the government to invest in more books like the ones donated by the MGRM.

“LGBTI+ Gozo hopes that the number of workshops said to be part of the project are well underway.”

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