RECAP: Anti-LGBTQ2S+ education demonstration met with counter protest in Toronto
Published Wednesday, September 20, 2023 10:44AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 20, 2023 3:17PM EDT
More than 1,000 counter-protesters descended on Queen’s Park to combat anti-LGBTQ2S+ inclusive education demonstrations, one of the many planned across the country on Wednesday.
Nationwide protests under the banner “1 Million March 4 Children” are pushing for the elimination of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculums in Canada.
Here is a breakdown of what happened in Toronto:
Toronto police confirmed to CTV News Toronto that an arrest was made at the demonstration.
A 47-year-old Toronto resident, identified by police as Julia Stevenson, has been charged with possession of a weapon and carrying a weapon while attending a public meeting.
Officials ay they have no further details about what kind of weapon the individual was allegedly carting.
“The case is still being process,” a spokesperson said.
The majority or protesters and counter-protesters have left dispersed.
In Hamilton, Upper Wentworth has reopened after being closed for public safety reasons.
In Toronto, protests are still ongoing, with the song “We don’t need no education” by Pink Floyd blaring in the background.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to social media saying that he condemns “this hate and its manifestations.”
Over in Hamilton, local police said there is “escalating behavior” between two groups of protesters, which has resulted in Upper Wentworth Street being shut down for public safety.
Police are on scene and continue to monitor the situation. Traffic will be affected, officers said.
The crowd that had gathered on the north side of the park began to disperse while chants could still be heard repeating, “Trans rights are human rights.”
On social media, #1MillionMarch4Chidren began trending with users poking fun at the fact that the hashtag has a spelling mistake.
The #TransRightsAreHumanRights hashtag also trended on Twitter with one user writing, “A reminder as people vilify public education and educators: schools often serve as a lifeline for kids who actually *are* abused at home.”
Police officers stood near the statue at the centre of Queen’s Park monitoring the protests and counter protests congregating outside of the legislature.
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“It’s our freedom to create our children as we want. It’s our kids. It’s our choice,” a participant protesting LGBTQ2S+ inclusive education said into a microphone on the north side of Queen’s Park where demonstrators gathered.
As speeches continued, one participant told CP24, “ I have issue with some of the content being taught to children in schools.”
“I do have issues though with parents not being involved in children's transitions because if you're aware within schools, children can transition without parents even being aware.”
One protester held a poster with the People's Party of Canada logo while another waved a flag that said, “Leave our kids alone.”
“Community Solidarity Toronto” spans across a massive sign held by members of the Social Economic Racial Climate Justice, alongside a purple sign that reads, “Shut Down Hate” at the south side of Queen’s Park.
Meanwhile, participants chanted, “Trans rights are human rights.”
The 519, an agency in downtown Toronto that supports members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, tells CTV News Toronto there are at least 1,000 counter-protesters at Queen’s Park.
One participant chanted: “Trans rights under attack, what do we do?”
“Stand up fight back,” the crowd responded.
While speaking at a transit event, Chow responded to questions from reporters about the protests taking place.
"Toronto is a caring and welcoming place for everyone, including LGBTQ neighbours and young people. So there's no room for hate in this inclusive city of ours. You will see upstairs (at City Hall), you will see a trans flag flying. We put it up because it's a show of solidarity," the mayor said.
MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam spoke to CP24 while participating in counter protests outside of Queen’s Park.
“They are creating a very harmful situation,” Wong-Tam said, speaking about the increasingly hostile environments of anti-LGBTQ2S+ rhetoric at schools.
“We know that suicide rates among queer students and trans students are significantly higher and if they are not being supported at home, then school is sometimes the only safe place for them – and that’s why we’re here.”
The counter-protests began marching towards Queen’s Park. Participants held colourful signs that read, “Educators for trans youth,” and “We will always exist.”
Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow said she has stood shoulder-to-shoulder in support of LGBTQ2S+ communities, and against discrimination, hatred and bigotry for decades.
“From the earliest Pride parades, through the AIDS crisis, winning same-sex marriage, and much more. I continue to stand with you today in the face of hate," Chow said in a statement on social media.
Counter-protesters started to congregate at Barbara Hall Park before marching to Queen’s Park.
The “1 Million March 4 Children” demonstration is also expected to gather at the legislature.
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce released a message stating the government’s commitment to the safety and well-being of all children in schools, “irrespective of your faith, heritage, sexual orientation, or color of skin.”