Competing protests erupted across various Canadian cities, with thousands of people gathering to voice their opinions on how schools address sexuality and gender identity, as well as how teachers interact with transgender youth.
Protesters from one camp accused schools of promoting what they referred to as “gender ideology” and argued that parents have the right to know if their children are questioning their gender identity. Meanwhile, counter-protesters accused the first group of importing divisive culture wars from the United States and obstructing crucial lessons on inclusion and respect for gender-diverse individuals in schools.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to denounce transphobia, homophobia, and biphobia, emphasizing that they have no place in Canada and expressing strong support for 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians.
The organizers of the protests stated that they were demonstrating against the perceived “premature sexualization and potentially harmful indoctrination” of children but emphasized that they do not oppose LGBTQ2S+ individuals. However, some signs displayed at the protests in Ottawa directly targeted LGBTQ2S+ community members, which appeared contrary to their stated intentions.
In response to the protests, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh led a group of counter-protesters in Ottawa, where a strong police presence separated the two groups. The competing demonstrations featured chants related to protecting trans youth and debates about the role of gender ideologies in schools.
Later in the day, Ottawa police arrested two individuals for inciting hatred at the protest by displaying hateful material, and another person was arrested for causing a disturbance. The police affirmed their commitment to fully investigating hate or bias-motivated crimes.
In Victoria, the protests grew so large and tensions escalated to the extent that the police deemed the area unsafe, urging citizens to leave. Arrests also occurred in Halifax, where a 16-year-old was taken into custody on charges of assault with a weapon, mischief, and causing a disturbance.
The debate on how schools engage with transgender and nonbinary students began when New Brunswick’s government changed its LGBTQ2S+ policy, requiring students under 16 to obtain parental consent before teachers could use their preferred first names. This policy led to a lawsuit by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association against the province. Saskatchewan implemented a similar policy, prohibiting teachers from using preferred first names and pronouns for students under 16 without parental consent. Protests also occurred outside Saskatchewan’s legislative building.
In Toronto, counter-protesters confronted anti-LGBTQ2S+ protesters at Queen’s Park, holding signs in support of the People’s Party of Canada and emphasizing the importance of leaving children unaffected by the debate. Some protesters promoted conspiracy theories and criticized Prime Minister Trudeau.
These events highlight the polarized discussions around gender identity, education, and LGBTQ2S+ rights in Canada, mirroring similar debates in the United States.
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