Education on LGBTIQ issues can be introduced as early as pre-school – Gabi Calleja

Malta Gay Rights Movement Coordinator Gabi Calleja told the Malta Independent that education on LGBTIQ issues can be introduced as early as pre-school through age-appropriate ways.

This education can continue till the end of compulsory schooling, she explained, adding that age appropriate ways include; “Story-telling, inclusive textbooks, exposure to diverse family forms, reference to LGBTIQ persons who have contributed to academic knowledge and visible role models all play a part in combating the stigma and prejudice often faced by LGBTIQ children and youth”.

Last Sunday the Malta Independent on Sunday published an interview with a person who is currently going through the process of changing gender, and together with her mother highlighted the need for more education on LGBTI issues in school.

The MGRM Coordinator explains that the LGBTIQ Consultative Council is advocating for the incorporation of LGBTIQ issues across the curriculum, guaranteeing a safe school environment and ensure the inclusion of trans, gender variant and intersex students. She stressed that education and raising awareness are also essential as they combat prejudice and open hearts and minds to diversity.

LGBTI+ Gozo Chairman Eman Borg believes that a huge leap in LGBTI rights has been made in the islands over the past years, complimenting the “ever growing acceptance within the community”. 

He stressed that education is the key to knowledge and “having such laws calls for an educational approach within schools. Gender and sexuality are two different things and therefore further education is needed in order for the public to understand and even ask questions to clarify any misconceptions”. LGBTI+ Gozo believes that everyone is equal and that no one is to live life in fear of showing who they are. “Education from a young age is of key importance”.

Attard Local Councillor Alex Mangion explained that it is simple to pass laws through parliament but the problem still remains – the problem of “Education and lack of knowledge”

He believes in informing others about certain situations and raising awareness of the reality of being a transgender person in a changing society. He stressed that more still needs to be done.  “I am very much aware that the Ministry of Human Rights is working on a plan with the education ministry, however I have not heard much more”. 

Government not consulting Opposition on amendment to Gender Identity Act

Mr Mangion has been at the centre of an issue relating to the Gender Identity Act, where as an adoptee, he was unable to change his gender on his documents.

Mr Mangion explained that government is working on the amendment, however “are being secretive on the amendment and have not consulted or updated the Opposition on the issue,” he explained. 

Mr Mangion told this newsroom that it has been around 3-4 weeks since he spoke to Sylvan Agius from the Civil Liberties Ministry. “I do understand that it takes time to amend such a bill with certain precision however I do not believe that it takes over 2-3 weeks for the amendment to be shown”. 

On the Gender Identity Act amendment, Gabi Calleja explained that the current difficulty that trans adoptees are facing in accessing this right is being addressed by the Ministry for Civil Liberties in conjunction with the Attorney General’s office and the public registry in the form of an amendment to the Act. The amendment will establish a process for gender recognition that takes into consideration the specificities of the adoption process. This may mean a court procedure since adoption involves a court decree which cannot be superseded by means of a public deed”. 

“The law is a necessary although not the only measure required to combat the discrimination faced by trans, gender variant and intersex individuals. The law allows for trans persons to have their gender identity recognised and ensures that they have access to legal documents that reflect their gender identity and gender expression. This allows trans persons to live simply as men or women rather than as transgender and facilitates their integration in society,” she explained.