Anti-LGBT education protest once again met by counter

October 25, 2023

By Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News

A protest from a group saying they represent parental rights in Kingston once again met a much larger counter protest on Saturday.

In September the "1 Million March 4 Children" saw protests in cities all over the country protesting a range of LGBTQ+ related issues, but mainly focusing on the education in schools pertaining to topics like gender and sexual identity.

With that protest at City Hall in Kingston saw a larger crowd of LGBTQ+ community members and supporters, with Saturday at the intersection of Gardiner's and Princess being no different.

The "1 Million March 4 Children" movement focuses on "protecting children from sexualization and indoctrination" as stated on their website, taking a particular gripe with schools adopting sexual orientation and gender identity education and discussion.

The website says those discussions should be had at an age appropriate time, but supporters like Isabella Harpell say even then schools should only be teaching the "basics" and leaving the rest up to parents. 

"The basics, not the different elements of it," Harpell said.

"That should be taught at home and it should be the parents' perspective on what should be taught."

The group is focused on those discussions remaining the responsibility of parents, and not the school, but advocates for the education system including those at the counter protest say in some cases those discussions simply won't happen if left to parents.

Bee Dupuis, one of the counter protest organizers, says as whole, protestors are blowing out of proportion what kids are learning.

She says they've made up their minds on how they feel about it.

"I think a lot of these parents are really taking whatever bits and pieces they can find to fuel their hatred," Dupuis said.

"I think they're just not really educating themselves on what is truly happening in their classrooms."

According to the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) as mandated by the Ministry of Education, that education sees students in the first grade identifying body parts including genitalia, in the fourth grade discussing puberty and from the fifth grade onward looking at concepts like sexual orientation - the discussion that is most frequently at issue for protestors. 

While they'd rather see the protestors be more open to the discussion, counter protestors don't necessarily expect to be heard by those they faced across the street. 

Dupuis says she at least hopes young people in the community see from the demonstration how supported they are in the community.

"At the end of the day if these protestors, who are most likely parents, aren't going to hear us, I just want their kids to hear us," Dupuis said.

"If it's going to fall on deaf ears for the parents I just truly hope that kids in our community truly feel supported to be able to express themselves without judgement."

The LDSB reiterated their statement from September when the "Million March" descended on Kingston's City Hall, saying they stand by the Ontario Human Rights Code which "is not a checklist where some grounds outweigh others."

"LDSB’s response to these types of planned demonstrations has not changed," a spokesperson for the board said.

"Harassment, discrimination, and hate have no place in Limestone. On a daily basis, staff across Limestone support student achievement and well-being, and work hard to create inclusive spaces where every student feels valued, seen and included."

The school board also said they, like all boards, are required to have a procedure that allows parents to exempt their children from the Human Development and Sexual Health education.

It requires a meeting with a school principal and filling out a form, but for protestors that option appears to not be enough. 

While "1 Million March" as a group may be primarily focused on removing gender identity and expression from school discussions, it also serves as a breeding ground for the circulation of frequently debunked stories like kitty litter boxes in schools, and larger conspiracies around "pushing" an LGBT friendly agenda. 

Harpell said the visibility and discussion around gender and sexuality is forced and is part of a grander scheme by international organizations. 

"They've been accepted for a very long time, they're making an issue of it now," Harpell said. 

"And I believe higher up organizations are behind it like the WEF and the United Nations... they want lower populations and this is one way of doing it."

Those claims could not be verified.

It's unknown at this time if/when another demonstration will take place, but Dupuis says she would expect yet another counter protest to meet it.