In and outside of school board meetings protests are attempting to disrupt some of the most basic accommodations for 2SLGBTQ+ students.
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Screenshots from videos of protests taking place in and outside of school board meetings in British Columbia and Ontario. Source: Hands Off Our Kids/Facebook (left); cudabdoll/X (right)
A large crowd gathers in what is a now familiar sight outside of school board meetings.
Chanting and waving signs, they demand in unison for school districts to “Leave our kids alone.”
Taking place outside a September 26, Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board meeting in Ontario. Trustees would decide to shut the in-person aspect of the meeting, taking it online.
“Whose kids? Our Kids,” the chanters call out.
Protests and demonstrations during school board meetings have become commonplace, as people opposed to a range of issues from inclusive policies for 2SLGBTQ+ to comprehensive sex education, and in some cases even seeking to ban books, frequently organize over social media.
“LGB can go to public schools and leave our kids to learn God’s law,” anti-2SLGBTQ+ activist Chrystal Peters told her followers while live streaming from inside the Dufferin-Peel meeting.
Peters, a regular fixture at protests targeting 2SLGBTQ+ events, was charged in July with Public Incitement of Hatred allegedly after a protest against a drag event outside a church.
Around 40 minutes into the meeting of the Dufferin-Peel school board, a recess was declared by the chair as the protesters began chanting and shouting objections. The rest of the meeting was carried out over Zoom without a public gallery.
Standing on a chair, Peters yelled about bathroom access for transgender students at the then-empty seats of the school board trustees. The crowd remained inside the building for a time until eventually joining other supporters outside and dispersing.
The large turnout of protesters to this one event is likely linked to an issue that the Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) categorized as a way to deny “parents and Catholic electors” their “legal right to speak freely at public school board meetings against flying the LGBT Pride flag, against Gender Ideology, sexual orientation curriculum, and the like.”
Another organization, Hands Off Our Kids, also referred to as HooK, claimed that if approved the measure would “limit our right to ever speak out in protest or criticism of SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) curriculums.”
The actual measure, proposed after a delegation by a representative of CLC in June 2023, was to “incorporate the specific language to uphold a safe and inclusive environment for all staff and students” for members of the public delegating or presenting at school board meetings.
This would mean that delegates would be required to adhere to a code of conduct in line with the Ontario Human Rights Code and include provisions to “provide and sustain a safe, caring, inclusive and healthy Catholic school community in which every student can succeed.”
The policy cited, Policy 9.01, is alleged by an online petition circulated by the protesters to be “filled with LGBT propaganda,” and “would restrict parents and delegates from speaking against the LGBT Pride flag, Gender Ideology, sexual orientation curriculum, and other LGBT-related occurrences.”
Only around one page long, Policy 9.01 does not specifically mention gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other related subject, rather placing an emphasis on inclusivity when creating a Catholic Code of Conduct. Student development, according to the policy, is to be aided by the “highest possible standards of Catholic behaviours,” that foster a “culture of respect, inclusion, equity, responsibility and concern for the well-being of all.”
The primary objection to Policy 9.01 appears to be that delegates presenting to trustees will have to abide by the Ontario Human Rights Code, which does include gender identity, gender expression, sex, and sexual orientation as protected classes.
The same petition against the policy says that parents who violate the code would be “subjected to the judicial rulings within the Ontario Human Rights Code.”
Far from the only heated protests to take place this week, Tuesday saw a reported 300 people in Abbotsford, BC. According to the Chilliwack Progress, demonstrators gathered outside of the Abbotsford school district administration office during a meeting of the public board of education.
Using familiar calls of “leave our children alone,” and “Stop SOGI,” they banged on windows and doors. The protests were reportedly peaceful, though video of the events shows trustees leaving the building with a police escort.
Last week also saw several bomb threats reportedly called into Southern Ontario schools. One of the targets, according to the Hamilton Spectator, is the same school where a controversial teacher, who was previously recorded wearing large prosthetic breasts, is currently employed.
During the large amount of public and media attention received last year, bomb threats were made against the teacher’s previous place of employment in Oakville, Ontario.
It has not been made clear if the recent flurry of threats against schools is all linked to issues of gender identity.
Similar demonstrations also took place outside of school board meetings in Hamilton, Prince George, and Kitchener-Waterloo.
This article is part of a project which has been made possible in part thanks to a generous family foundation and our fundraising partner the Mosaic Institute. We appreciate their support.