Police charge one person for allegedly bringing weapon to duelling protests at Queen's Park
Published Wednesday, September 20, 2023 7:39PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 20, 2023 7:42PM EDT
Toronto police arrested one person at Queen's Park, where thousands of supporters and opponents of LGBTQ2S+-inclusive education held competing demonstrations on Wednesday.
In an email to CTV News Toronto, police confirmed that 47-year-old Julia Stevenson was taken into custody in relation to the protests. The Toronto resident has been charged with possession of a weapon and carrying a weapon while attending the public meeting.
Police did not provide further details about the circumstances of the arrest, including what kind of weapon Stevenson was allegedly carrying. It is also unclear which group she was a part of.
The grounds of the provincial legislature were the site of duelling protests: one group called for the elimination of sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum in schools while the other condemned the aforementioned group's message and push for schools to continue to be safe spaces for LGBTQ2S+ students.
Carrying signs that read, "Parents know best," "My child, my choice!" and "Leave our Kids Alone!" those with the "1 Million March 4 Children" said they do not want students to be exposed to "gender ideology."
"We just want to protect our kids. They should be allowed to grow up without feeling like ideology is forced on them at a young age," Alicia Allen said.
Another protester added, "I have an issue with some of the content being taught to children in schools."
However, counter-protesters, who gathered at Barbara Hall Park before making their way to Queen's Park, argued that the other group was promoting hate.
Waving flags of the LGBTQ2S+Q community and holding up signs that read, "Protect Trans Kids," "An Army of Lovers Shall Not Fail," and "Love Will Always Win," they marched to the legislature, where they came face to face with the other group.
The two demonstrations were separated by a line of police officers
"They say it's the protection for the parents' rights. Its cloaked hatred," counter-protester Ivan Canete said.
"Every student should have the right. They do have the right -- and that's what we're here to protect – to be able to attend school free of fear, free of violence," Carolyn Wilson said.
"And that's what we're ensuring we're protecting by having those conversations in schools."
The competing protests in Toronto were just one of the many that occurred across Canada on Wednesday.
The demonstrations came amid debate over how schools should deal with a student's preferred pronoun. The provinces of Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have introduced policies that would require students to get parental consent if they wish to change their preferred pronouns.
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce have both faced criticism after saying that parents should be informed about their children's school decisions regarding their preferred pronouns.
The protests at Queen's Park dispersed before 3 p.m.
- With files from CTV Toronto's Allison Hurst, Hannah Alberga and Katherine DeClerq