Chorus of condemnation of anti-LGBT march grows with voices from Ajax, Whitby and Durham Region

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Published September 20, 2023 at 1:44 pm

Anti-LGBt protestors march past a school, - via Caryma S'ad

Yet more of Durham Region’s leaders have come out to condemn marches that have been called anti-LGBTQ that are unfolding across the country today and voice their solidarity with the LGBT community.

The Muslim organization “Hands Off Our Children” and the Christian “Save Canada” group united to conduct several marches in major cities across Canada, per Press Progress. The 1 Million March 4 Children’s goal is to rail against “gender ideology” that they believe schools across the country are using to “indoctrinate” children.

The “1 Million March 4 Children” organizers say they are protesting Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) teachings in schools in part because they say children are too young to learn about the subject and they are worried children are being used as “tools” for a political agenda.

The group said in a Facebook post that it wants the government to “respect the rights of parents, and schools should focus on subjects that prepare children for their future.”

The groups claim they are not against the LGBT community but against “indoctrination.”

Press Progress argues the leaders of these groups have made numerous homophobic remarks and are often linked to anti-LGBT rhetoric.

Such marches have been organized in communities across the GTA, including Mississauga, Oakville and Whitby. The marches had been planned and expected for some time. Counter-protesters have emerged to challenge them. The local route is set to begin at the DDSB headquarters in Whitby and head all the way to Pickering City Hall.

This prompted several statements from police services, including in Durham, saying they would be on-site to maintain the peace. Counter to some claims, police clarified they are not there to escort the march.

Many leaders throughout the areas set to see protests came forward to condemn them as homophobic and transphobic. The Durham District School Board was among the first to issue its support to the LGBT community, saying it wished to “reiterate its unwavering support to upholding the human rights of Two Spirit, transgender, non-binary, gender diverse and all 2SLGBTQI students, staff, families.”

They were soon joined by Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe, who said he believed the protestor’s goals would “foster discrimination, perpetuate stereotypes, increase bullying and cause tremendous harm to 2SLGBTQIA+ students.” His full statement was covered in its own story.

The Town of Ajax soon echoed these sentiments, saying they are “committed to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion. The Town continues to support 2SLGBTQIA+ community members to help ensure a welcoming space for all.” Durham Region felt the same, saying, “We strive to create safe, respectful and inclusive communities where everyone is welcomed and is valued for who they are.”

“Today’s protests claim to support the rights of children – but in fact, they do the opposite,” Whitby Mayor Elizabeth Roy said, “Campaigns like this one attack inclusive education that benefits all students, and foster environments where 2SLGBTQIA+ children and youth are more likely to be bullied or marginalized.”

I am alarmed by the increasingly harmful anti-2SLGBTQIA+ rhetoric that is being directed towards our schools. We know that rates of suicide and self-harm are higher for students in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and in some cases, school is the only safe place for them,” she continued.

The Trevor Project, an LGBT suicide-prevention non-profit, found LGBT youth are more than four times as likely as their straight and cisgendered peers to attempt suicide. They found there is one LGBT suicide attempt every 45 seconds in the United States. Additionally, they found more than 35 per cent of kids have been bullied or harassed based on their sexuality or gender expression.

Only one-third of LGBT kids report their home and family are accepting of their sexuality and gender expression while another third report parental rejection. The last third reports they stay in the closet until adulthood.

She concluded, “I respect the right to peaceful protest, however, events that specifically target the 2SLGBTQIA+ community have no place in our town.”

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