Three Detained Amidst Protests Over School Gender Teaching in Nanaimo and Victoria

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On a tumultuous Wednesday, three individuals were apprehended amidst heated protests and counter-protests in Nanaimo and Victoria. Participants erupted into passionate discourses concerning the manner in which schools orient their teaching of sexuality and gender identity, as well as the terminologies teachers employ for addressing transgender students.

The particular attention of law enforcement was drawn to a man brandishing a bullhorn, voicing dissent regarding children’s autonomy to determine their gender identities. Following a physical confrontation outside Nanaimo’s city hall, the man was pursued and subdued by Nanaimo RCMP officers.

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Constable Gary O’Brien, the RCMP spokesperson in Nanaimo, indicated that the man is expected to remain in custody until the demonstrations conclude. Elsewhere, in Victoria, hundreds of additional protestors convened at the B.C. legislature; two arrests being made early Wednesday afternoon. Local authorities advised residents to keep clear of the B.C. legislature grounds due to safety concerns; an estimated 2,500 individuals engaged in the demonstrations, manifesting escalating tensions.

Such rallies were commonplace across Vancouver Island and mirrored multiple, similar actions across Canada; actions led by self-proclaimed members of the group 1 Million March 4 Children, who demand the removal of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology, and gender-neutral washrooms from schools, as their website states.

Meanwhile, counter-protestors accused these demonstrators of importing American cultural disputes into Canadian territory, maintaining the import of teaching respect and acceptance for gender-diverse individuals within the educational system.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in on the nation-wide protests through Twitter, condemning transphobia, homophobia, and biphobia: “We strongly denounce this hate and stand in unity, lending our support to 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians across the country — your validity and worth are recognised.”

Simultaneously, Clint Johnston, the sitting president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, addressed a letter concerning anticipated protest action to B.C. Premier David Eby. In it, he posited that these demonstrations constituted a coordinated strike against the transgender and LGBTQ communities, a part of a larger North American trend that camouflages homophobia and transphobia under the guise of ‘parental consent’ calls.

Responding to Johnston’s correspondence, Premier Eby declared schools should be a haven for every student, expressing his dismay over the misuse of false information to target young, vulnerable populations.

“Without reservation, I publicly denounce threats, hate and violence against 2SLGBTQIA+ communities,” Eby stated. “We are witnessing an alarming surge in occurrences targeting trans individuals with threats and violence, both in-person and online. We cannot, and indeed should not, remain passive in the face of any form of bullying. Any political leader who targets our most vulnerable, at-risk children is in fact no leader at all.”

Pledging their support to the counter-protestors that Wednesday, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs issued a statement affirming their stand with those who “reject hate and discrimination in defending the rights of our 2-spirit, trans, and non-binary kin.”