Children of same sex couples tell of problems at school and that they often resort to lying
36 parents and 30 children having different sexual orientations have found the support of Rainbow Families Network – a joint initiative of the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, LGBTIQ Malta and the Malta Gay Rights Movement. At the end of this network’s first year a screening process was carried out, not only of the work done but also of the experiences of gay and transgender parents and their children.
Children of different ages who attend primary school and who are adopted by same-sex parents, or who are themselves LGBTIQ, said they felt obliged to lie about their family to avoid being bullied, excluded or humiliated. LGBTIQ children said they felt invisible in class and stressed that their families should be recognized and accepted. These children explained that teachers sometimes fail to take action when they hear disparaging comments from other children against gays and therefore feel less protected when being bullied.
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the establishment of the Rainbow Families Network, these were the comments and concerns put forward by child and their parents. To date, 36 parents and 30 children of different orientations have found support in this network and one of the points frequently raised was bullying along with so called inadequate educational practices which lead to marginalisation.
Ruth Micallef is a member of a group of parents group who identify as transgender. She spoke to about what they went through a year ago when their daughter told them that she feels she is transgender.
“Exactly a year ago our daughter approached me and told me she did not feel comfortable in her body, and although she did not know exactly what she feel, she identified more with being a boy rather than a girl. Obviously it was a big shock. For me too, as in my day being trans was not as common as it is today and today there is more awareness. I couldn’t understand why and I was in denial. I found support in the Rainbow Support Group and with their help I can understand the situation much better.”
Noel Vella Galea, a member of the same-sex relationships parent group is the parent of a seven year old child who was adopted from Portugal a year ago.
“As a network, it helped discovering that in Malta there are same-sex couples with children, and couples who are gay who have their own biological or adoptive children. Sharing our experiences has also helped i.e. experiences and issues they encounter in society. We even raise some issues as a group. ”
President Emeritus Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who runs the Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, said that Malta was a pioneer in legislative changes in this sector, but that, if we wanted society to be inclusive, it was fundamental to have calm dialogue without a hint of violence.
The Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society and the Malta Gay Rights Movement signed an agreement in principle to further strengthen the working relationship between the two organizations.