Anti-LGBTQ group spreads ‘only bigotry’ from Oshawa’s Lakeview Park

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Published July 18, 2023 at 4:31 pm

An anti-LGBT group known for distributing hateful messaging at school boards has set up a display in Oshawa’s Lakeview Park hoping to gather support for a school policy that would rembusre their tax contributions to schools that teach LGBT issues.

The group, DDSB Concerned Parents, has long campaigned against teaching about LGBTQ issues and a school policy that accepts the gender identity expressed by students. They have rallied behind controversial Durham District School Board (DDSB) Trustee Linda Stone in the wake of a series of comments that many have called transphobic.

Stone has been under fire many times in recent years for her “belligerent, reductive and dismissive” attitude towards transgender people. As a result of her comments, Stone stepped down from the board but was later re-elected. Since then, she’s been censured repeatedly for similar comments, most recently following an Integrity Commissioner report that found her behaviour “simply unacceptable.”

After Stone’s restrictions, numerous parents began flooding into DDSB meetings to continue spouting the anti-LGBTQ beliefs they shared with her. These appearances proved so disruptive the board had to restrict the amount of time for public comments and review questions before meetings.

After the school year ended, these groups continued to spread discriminatory literature throughout Oshawa. On June 25, Father Michael Hughes of Oshawa’s St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church handed out a flyer condemning the LGBTQ community as representing “sex groomers,” “witchcraft” and “satanism.” Hughes later apologized for handing out the flyer, which he said he got from “a DDSB educator.” However, no one officially took credit for writing the flyer and the group has denied involvement.

Next, by July 6, DDSB Concerned Parents began handing out a “survey” asking the community if they were comfortable with gender-neutral bathrooms and falsely claiming there is “no expected privacy” in universal bathrooms. The same privacy laws that apply to gendered bathrooms apply to universal ones. Voyeurism and sexual offences are still crimes no matter where they are committed.

Oshawa councillor Brian Nicholson called this a “push poll” to advance a transphobic agenda. “I have nothing but contempt for those people and any who try to spread this garbage in my community,” he said.

Most recently, the group appeared in Lakeview Park on July 17 and 18. This time they had a petition calling on the Ontario government to refund their taxes to schools that teach about LGBTQ issues. “These are not the Government of Ontario’s children, they are ours and we refuse to let you raise them as you wish,” the petition reads as it decries “sexualization of, indoctrination and the material being taught with regards to this”

Groups of this nature often argue that they are “protecting” children from the LGBTQ community and “gender ideology,” per the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

However, the group did not have a permit to operate a booth in the park. In Oshawa, hosting an event in public space, including protests and booths, requires a special event permit. The DDSB Concerned Parents did not get one and were therefore fined, according to Nicholson.* He said they’ve also been fined for wasting city resources.

“They have no permit. They are spreading lies and hate. They have no legitimate concerns, only bigotry,” Nicholson wrote, ” That is just more lies. There are no mixed-gender washrooms in Oshawa yet this lie is continued to be spread as fact. The only bullying is the spreading of these lies and the hurt they are causing.”

Update July 19. DDSB Concerned parents later refuted Nicholson’s version of events. They claim Oshawa by-law did not need a permit and were not removed from the park. Member Jennifer Cooke said they were simply having a picnic and had a petition on hand.

*Correction: An earlier version of story said the group was escorted out of the park. Later revealed information showed they were only fined. They had planned to sit in the park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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