LGBTQ activists are planning counter-protests at the B.C. legislature Wednesday in response to a march by a group that opposes teaching children about gender identity in schools.
The group 1 Million March 4 Children is holding events across the country Wednesday at noon.
The group is advocating for elimination of what it calls “gender ideology” from the curriculum — including discussion of sexual orientation, gender identity and pronouns — as well as mixed bathrooms from schools. It’s urging students to walk out of classrooms on Wednesday.
The group did not respond to an interview request.
New policies in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick that require parental consent for children to use a different name or pronoun at school have been criticized as infringing on children’s rights.
Ace Mann, vice-president of the Victoria Pride Society, said the society is not organizing the counter-protest but is calling on allies to join to show their support for trans and queer community members.
“If you have been to a drag show or if you’ve been to a gay bar, or if you came to Pride, now is the time to show up,” Mann said.
“Pride started as a protest. It’s not always rainbow and glitter, and we really need those people who showed up then to show up now.”
Mann said those who don’t feel safe attending should not do so. “It’s really hard to see your existence invalidated by people, so if you don’t want to go when those people are there, don’t.”
Brae Carnes, an activist in the queer community, has been working with others to spread the word about the counter events on Wednesday.
Carnes, who is trans, said she knew who she was at a young age but she didn’t have the words to identify herself, because she wasn’t exposed to conversations about gender identity. Instead, she turned to the internet and struggled with shame, confusion and feeling out of place.
“If I had had SOGI [sexual orientation and gender identity] in school, I would have been saved from learning about myself in unhealthy ways. It would have saved a lot of grief for me,” she said, adding it’s important that queer children see themselves represented.
The Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association issued a statement Monday reaffirming its commitment to protect schools as safe and inclusive spaces. Resources about sexual orientation and gender identity should not be controversial, the association said.
“The alarming rise of homophobia and transphobia across Canada has no place in our communities, least of all our schools,” the group said.
“Misguided campaigns that would force trans kids to out themselves are dangerous, threatening their mental health and even their lives. We must unite against these movements based in disinformation and right-wing conspiracy theories that aim to bring us backward.”
President of the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils Tracy Humphreys has sent a letter to Greater Victoria School District families saying that SOGI curriculum resources “continue to be critically important to cultivating understanding, empathy and respect in schools, nurturing a community where everyone feels seen, heard and valued.”
“Your best source of information for what will be taught to your children using these or any other resources is your teacher, and I would encourage you to ask them to share this content with you to alleviate any fears you may have,”
A counter-protest will take place at the legislature at noon, followed by another event at 3 p.m.
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