|SC||Variations of sex characteristics|
|GR1||Legal gender recognition without self-determination|
|GR2||Legal gender recognition with self-determination (over 16)|
|GR3||Legal gender recognition with self-determination (under 16)|
|FPN||LGBTI focal points network|
|CA||Ministerial call to action|
The Constitution of Malta (1964, amended 2016, Art. 45(3)) states that no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect. In particular, it reflects that no different treatment should be given to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description. Moreover, the Education Act (1988, amended 2017, Art. 89(6f)) states that the school shall ensure the implementation of the principles of inclusive education by providing an equitable access to all persons in full respect of any diversity.
On June 2015, the Maltese government launched the Trans, Gender Variant and Intersex Students in Schools Policy. This is a comprehensive education policy focused on the needs of trans, gender variant and intersex children. Several needs are identified in this policy (i.e. including confidentiality, adequate facilities, support, inclusive policies, the possibility to amend documentation and access to information). The procedure and strategy documents which accompany the policy document outlines the steps schools need to take and determine how the policy’s provisions should be implemented uniformly in all schools. This document focuses on how to address the issues faced by trans, gender variant and intersex students in schools and how to accommodate their needs. The policy highlights the fundamental obligation placed on schools to provide all students with a safe and inclusive educational environment.
In October 2014, the Ministry for Education and Employment of Malta published a policy to Address Bullying Behaviour in Schools that reflects a whole school approach philosophy. The document highlights the relevant legislation and legal instruments to tackle bullying at school and defines what should be considered as bullying, with a dedicated section on sexual, homophobic and transphobic bullying. In June 2015, a policy for Trans, Gender Variant and Intersex Students in Schools Policy was also published. Besides legal documentation, this document contains a section on how to make schools inclusive for trans, gender variant and intersex students to be shared by all stakeholders involved, including all teaching and administrative school staff (college principals, school management teams, educators, etc.) and support services.
Malta has a national framework of education which specifies the competences and knowledge that learners should work towards in each school year. According to these guidelines, most of the content for specific subjects should be inclusive of LGBTQI people. However, local NGOs report that the implementation of these competences depends to a large extent on the discretion of individual teachers and schools. It does not adopt a cross-curricular approach and tends to be viewed as the responsibility of Personal, Social and Career Education (PSCD), religion teachers and student support service professionals, such as guidance teachers and counsellors. When included in religion, for instance, representations of and discussions on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or variations in sex characteristics still tend to be hostile.
Overall, inclusion of LGBTQI issues is limited and sporadic. Until recently, teacher training generally involved a module on addressing diversity in the classroom and this contained some input on including LGBTQI learners. These sessions were delivered by the equality body, and LGBTQI organisations were not informed of precise content covered. Since October 2016, the format of teacher training changed considerably with the setting up of the Master in Teaching and Learning. This includes Social and Cultural Diversity as one of its themes. Although this includes some LGBTQI content, it is doubtful that it sufficiently provides students with the knowledge and skills to effectively address LGBTIQ issues in the classroom or wider school environment.
Local civil society organisations (i.e. MGRM) have been involved in providing teacher training specifically in relation to the trans, gender variant and intersex students in school policy.
The Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (2015) and the Trans, Gender Variantand Intersex Students in Schools Policy (2015) state that schools should provide a safe environment for these learners and address topics like the use of inclusive language or the right of the students to disclose their gender. However, young people under the age of 16 need the consent of their parents to officially change their gender despite the principle of self-determination of the act and its policy.
Malta is highlighted as one of the countries where data collection on discrimination is limited to a few incidents and, in general, not published. It has no school climate surveys but relies on cases reported to the anti-bullying unit. These are generally the cases which are serious enough to warrant intervention from the central unit rather than being dealt with directly by the school.
Research studies may be conducted by NGOs or equality bodies in the future. The Victim Support for Youth (VS4Y) is a project carried out by a Non-Governmental Organisation supporting victims of crime (Victim Support Malta) and funded by the Malta Community Chest Fund. It provides data about LGBTI learners at school.
The MGRM’s Rainbow Support Service may receive referrals from schools particularly with respect to trans students. This service incorporates the social work service, a youth group for LGBTIQ persons aged between 15 and 25, psychological support, and a legal consultancy service. The project also allows for the provision of workshops or training to schools and professionals involved in the provision of social welfare services, as well as the delivery of informative sessions to students.
The government works closely with local civil society organisations in the field of education. It also provides funding to NGOs for delivering teacher training on their behalf (MGRM has been involved in providing teacher training specifically in relation to the trans, gender variant and intersex student in school policy), lessons with students (occasionally MGRM is requested to provide direct input to students generally as part of diversity initiatives or personal and social education classes), support for learners (Rainbow Support Services may receive referrals from schools particularly with respect to trans students) or education resources (MGRM has provided education resources to be used by schools). Other organisations such as Drachma, Drachma Parents, We Are and the Malta Medical Students’ Association have also been involved in educational initiatives with schools.
– Malta signed the Call for Action by Ministers – Inclusive and equitable education for all learners in an environment free from discrimination and violence.
– Malta is member of the European Governmental LGBTI Focal Point Network.
In 2015, MGRM donated books to the education ministry for use in schools. They were mostly story books on diverse family forms, gender stereotyping, gender expression etc. There was a public outcry by some groups against the distribution of the books in primary schools, which led to these resources being kept at the ministry rather than being handed out to the schools. The parents’ association was supportive of the initiative. This opposition was also vocal in regard to the introduction of the trans, gender variant and intersex students in school policy.
Think before you speak [http://www.maltagayrights.org/think.php]
This project aimed to address the difficulties encountered by LGBTQ youth related to the recognition of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and raise awareness about the prevalence and the effects of homophobic and transphobic bullying. It addressed LGBTQ learners, their peers, the school staff and their parents. The promotional tools of the campaign include videos, posters and postcards.
Covers: SO and GIE
Trans, Gender Variant and Intersex Students in School Policy
The Maltese government is the first to tackle inclusion of trans, gender variant and intersex students in schools with a specific policy, procedures and strategy document (see above).
Covers: SO, GIE and SC