On Wednesday, thousands of people demonstrated in various cities in Canada against the development of sexual education in schools, which they argue leads to “premature sexualization and potentially harmful indoctrination” of children.
Counter-protesters also joined in, arguing that it is important for children to learn about gender identities.
The initial protests on Wednesday were labeled as the “1 Million March for Children”, where protesters were against schools’ sexual education exposing children to “gender ideology” by teaching about subjects like transsexuality. They further argued that the sexual education is concerned with “premature sexualization and potentially harmful indoctrination”, adding that this is not a general opposition to LGBTQ+ issues.
Counter-protesters also joined, accusing the demonstrators of denying children “important lessons on inclusion and respect for people with different gender identities”, reports the Canadian state channel CBC.
— John-Henry Westen (@JhWesten) September 20, 2023
Fierce debates on children’s gender identity
In Canada, gender identity in schools has sparked debates in recent months. This comes after schools in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan introduced a rule requiring parental approval before school staff can use the names and pronouns chosen by children under the age of 16. Children learn about gender identity in eighth grade through sexual education.
Protests erupted in several cities in Canada, where police felt compelled to separate the demonstrators from one another. In Vancouver, around a hundred people gathered, but in the city of Victoria, the protests grew so large that police deemed it unsafe for citizens to be in the area. There were approximately 2,500 demonstrators in the city.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to the protests, stating that “transphobia” has no place in Canada.
“Transphobia, homophobia, and biphobia have no place in this country. We strongly condemn this hate and its manifestations, and we stand united in support of 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians across the country – you are valid and you are valued“, he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
In Ottawa, two people were arrested by police for “displaying hateful material”, along with one person who was causing a disturbance.