A Modern Sexuality & Relationships Education Syllabus for 21st Century Malta

A Modern Sexuality & Relationships Education Syllabus for 21st Century Malta

28 Oct 2021
Malta’s sexual and relationships education guidelines published in 2013 are barely suitable for the 21st Century
Sex Education

> A mandatory syllabus for schools.

> Inclusive (LGBTIQ+, disability (both physical & mental), not-segregated.

>  Disinformation should not be accepted.

We are approaching 2022 and Malta’s Sexuality & Relationships Education (SRE) guidelines published in 2013 are barely suitable for the 21st Century. To this day, it still holds the promotion of Abstinence as a principle, offers very little guidance on teaching LGBTIQ+ matters, and also encourages the gendered segregation of students in co-ed schools, and makes no mention of explaining consent. Lastly, there is no transparency and no information on a national curriculum that adopts the guidelines, which encourages the disinformation of organisations such as Life Network, which is anti-LGBTIQ+ rights, anti-choice, and against increasing accessibility to contraceptives.

The curriculum must be mandatory, accurate, and inclusive for all schools, including church schools. The curriculum must be fact-based, free of doctrine. The objective is to empower the youths and trust them to make well-informed decisions, with information, and to discover themselves, in an open stigma-free environment. Youths are exposed to concepts related to SRE from a very young age through media and the internet. To ensure they are equipped with the correct information, SRE education should begin from late on at the primary level, and be complete throughout secondary. Post-secondary and tertiary level institutions should also provide refresher courses. 

‘‘It’s a shame that the Netflix show ‘Sex Education’ gives better sex education than what is currently encouraged in the guidelines- noted Alexia DeBono, Social Equality Lead & Co-President of Volt Malta.

Inclusivity creates empathy and awareness. An inclusive curriculum is one that does not separate genders in co-ed schools to discuss any topics and doesn’t present topics in a heteronormative manner. It means ensuring the youths are also informed of SRE from an LGBTIQ+ perspective by persons who are objective and informed, as much as they are informed of SRE from a heterosexual  & cisgender perspective. It is worth adding that, information alone is insufficient, and schools should provide appropriate support services for students who may be questioning their sexuality & gender identity. 

The SRE curriculum must also be inclusive of persons with disabilities (both physical and mental).

‘‘My journey through school lacked sex education, and the guidelines today are an improvement but a far cry from what they should be’’- added Kass Mallia, Candidate & Vice-President of Volt Malta.

SRE can not be optional. It is crucial to be informed on matters related to puberty, gender identity, sexual orientation, reproduction, consent, relationships, contraceptives, sexually transmitted infections & diseases, identifying and preventing sexual violence and more in an honest manner, if we are to become a more respecting, healthier and cohesive society free of stigma and taboo related to the subject.