Nationwide Protests Intensify Over LGBTQ Rights in Canadian Schools

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Across the wide expanse of Canada on Wednesday, protests and counter-protests are set to unfold, representing both support and opposition for the nation’s trans and LGBTQ community. These demonstrations are fueled by the distinctively named group, “1MillionMarch4Children,” which contends that its rally-goers are uniting against the so-called “gender ideology” in schools – a term they use to refer to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity programs being taught in British Columbia’s public schools.

On the other side of the divide is Sarah Worthman. An established campaigner for LGBTQ rights, she is in the throes of organizing no less than 63 counter-demonstrations across the country. Worthman emphasizes the necessity of Canadians to rally for the LGBTQ community beyond simply showing up for Pride events, stating emphatically, “Allyship is a verb.” She advocates for solidarity with the community, who, according to her, have been the increasing target of political controversies and hatred. To that end, she encourages participation in No Space for Hate events.

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Highlighting the threat from a minority of vociferous, far-right instigators who falsely believe they represent the majority opinion, Worthman ardently hopes the planned counter-protests will expose and counter the hateful narratives expected to pervade the protests. She believes this will effectively demonstrate that a majority of Canadians are supportive, emphasizing, “Doing these small things shows there is social pushback. There is real danger in all of this.”

Kasari Govender, British Columbia’s Human Rights Commissioner, characterizes the anti-LGBTQ demonstrations as “hate-fuelled.” She stresses the importance of peaceful protests which uphold democracy and cultivate debate, but firmly asserts that the human rights of the trans and LGBTQ community are non-negotiable. From an inquiry conducted by her office, Govender reveals that nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ students do not feel safe in their schools, a stark contrast to the mere 11% of heterosexual students who report the same. She calls all efforts aiming to eliminate these students from school curriculums hateful.

Clint Johnston, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation, has raised the alarm about these planned protests, sending a letter to B.C. Premier David Eby, expressing concerns for their potential harm to the trans and LGBTQ community. In response, Eby has confidently denounced any threats, hate, and violence against the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, insisting that schools must be a haven for every student. He condemns any political leader targeting vulnerable young people, declaring, “Any political leader who targets our most vulnerable, at-risk children and youth is no leader at all.

The City of Whitehorse is taking note of a march reportedly scheduled for Sept. 20 and has affirmed that any anti-LGBTQ messaging aimed at harming community members will not be condoned. Law enforcement authorities will be on guard on the day of the march.

Govender underscores the misguided nature of those who mistakenly believe that they are “protecting” children by eradicating support for gay, bisexual, trans, and other students from schools. She pleads with them, insisting that obscuring LGBTQ2SAI+ individuals from our curriculum will neither shape a child’s identity nor promote safety for these communities in schools.

Furthermore, she observes that trans individuals are becoming the victims of a wave of hateful conspiracy theories and misinformation. Echoing this sentiment, she concludes, “This is not only about hate on the basis of gender identity; these rallies are an affront to human dignity, expression, and rights for all of us.”

In a letter to Premier Eby, Govender has urged him to shed light on the effectiveness of 12 recommendations from her office relating to this matter. She emphasizes that these recommendations, which were prepared following a public inquiry on hate incidents in B.C., serve as a crucial guide on how to bolster efforts against hate.