Hundreds of people marched to Queen’s Park in protests and counter-protests Wednesday on the topic of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum.
The 1 Million March 4 Kids is a national protest that took place in 33 cities and towns in Ontario and 101 places in Canada, from major cities to small towns, on Sept. 20. The purpose of the protest was in support of “the elimination of the SOGI curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.”
In Toronto, the protestors gathered around the King Edward VII statue in Queen’s Park. Some of the protestors held People’s Party of Canada (PPC) signs saying “leave our kids alone,” and homemade signs saying things such as “parents know best” and “no sex ed.”
“We stand against all forms of discrimination, hatred and bigotry, and for the safety and well-being of all young people,” says Mayor Olivia Chow in a tweet regarding the protest. “Some wish to target our schools and libraries to spread hate. We know these must be spaces that welcome everyone, especially students.”
The march was quickly met by opposition. A counter protest organized by the 519 was held at the same time as the 1 Million March 4 Kids. The 519 is a group that “strives to make a real difference in people’s lives, while working to promote inclusion, understanding and respect” in regards to the 2SLGBTQ+ in Toronto.
A newsletter sent out by the 519 out two days before the 1 Million March 4 Children was scheduled. The newsletter was a call to action to join the counter protest. The counter protest gathered on the grass at the front of the Legislative Assembly.
“We know that this will hurt students in so many ways. In this time of renewed hate and emboldened anger against 2 Spirit, trans, and queer people, it’s time now, more than ever, for us to show up and make it clear that hate has no place in Ontario,” says the Army of Lovers in their newsletter.
While both sides ideologically clashed throughout the day, they remained largely separate from each other physically. Small pocket groups on both sides would make their way to the other side of the assembly to station themselves beside each other’s protests.
“[For] our children [and] families like mine. It is absolutely critical for us to be here,” says NDP MP Kristyn Wong-Tam. “There is indoctrination happening in schools. That is language they use to weaponize what is actually happening in schools.”
A day ahead of the protest the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) made a statement about where they stand when it came to the protests. The TDSB says that schools are no place for hate and discrimination. In solidarity with 2SLGBTQ+ communities, the TDSB raised pride flags at education centres and administration sites.
“Ahead of these planned demonstrations, we want to make it unequivocally clear that TDSB stands with our trans, Two-Spirit and non-binary students, staff and families, and we support everyone’s human rights and expression of gender,” says the TDSB in their statement. “In our schools, we do not tell students who they should be, but welcome them as they are. We do this by focusing on their academic learning and fostering feelings of belonging as expected in the Ontario curriculum and the Ontario Human Rights Code.”
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