The media in Malta is reinforcing sexual stereotypes and is not helping in proliferating correct sexual behaviour and information, the Social affairs Committee of the House of Representatives heard today as it continued its discussion aimed at updating the sexual health policy.
It was hearing the views of educators on this issue.
Of the seven members of the committee, only Chairman Deborah Schembri (PL) and member Paula Mifsud Bonnici (PN) were present.
The teachers said that drama and infotainment content produced in the Maltese media reinforced the 'dominant male-submissive female' stereotypes which were being challenged in other aspects of life. They said that young adults were being allowed to watch programmes which undid the work of the Personal and Social Development teachers.
The teachers pointed out that pupils in Church, state and private schools received the same tuition, even if there was more resistance in Church School. They said that the teachings on sexuality were placed within a set of values, placing absetenance as the highest value, failing which fidelity and responsibility were of paramount importance. Use of contraception was still taught in Church schools with the aid of an appropriate kit as used in state schools. The teachers pointed out that the emphasis was being made on stable relationships and the Personal and Social Development teachers are focussing considerably on Internet access where many relationships are being forged.
The difficulty of catering for transgender students was highlighted. The teachers said that since most schools were not co-educational, this was a very real problem, also in terms of catering for sexual education of the pupil concerned. Teachers said that that they too needed training for handling such circumstances. The same problem, in different parameters, relates to children with special needs who, also, need to learn how to handle their sexuality.
The lack of time and teaching staff in junior classes for the teaching of science, the teachers pointed out, was hindering the build up to appropriate sexual knowledge. Religious knowledge reinforced the sexual education emphasizing the need for acceptance of differences and building bridges over diversities. This applies to acceptance of gay unions, said the teachers.
They said religion emphasizes the dignity of a person and the value of a committed relationship. They said that religion, science and PSD education work hand in hand with different emphasis.
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