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Protesters clash at Legislature during counter SOGI demonstrations

Marches cancelled as police call for end to demonstrations

Robyn Bell
September 20, 2023
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Protesters clash at Legislature during counter SOGI demonstrations

Marches cancelled as police call for end to demonstrations

Robyn Bell
Sep 20, 2023
Protesters gathered on the Legislature lawn. Photo: Robyn Bell / Capital Daily
Protesters gathered on the Legislature lawn. Photo: Robyn Bell / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Protesters clash at Legislature during counter SOGI demonstrations

Marches cancelled as police call for end to demonstrations

Robyn Bell
September 20, 2023
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Protesters clash at Legislature during counter SOGI demonstrations
Protesters gathered on the Legislature lawn. Photo: Robyn Bell / Capital Daily

Thousands of people gathered on the Legislature lawn on Wednesday—but not all for the same reason. Across Canada, protests run by a group called “1MillionMarch4Children” (1MM4C) took place, calling for the end of sexual orientation and gender identity education (SOGI) in schools. With it came multiple counter protests defending SOGI, calling 1MM4C transphobic and anti-2SLGBTQ+.

In Victoria, the counter protest appeared to be overwhelmingly larger than the anti-SOGI protest it came out to challenge—considering Victoria has the highest proportion of non-binary and trans residents, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The planned march was cancelled as tensions between the groups rose, prompting police to call for an end to the protests, referring to them as “unsafe”. Police created a barrier between the two groups, splitting them down the middle, but heated arguments continued across the line. Several attendees were escorted out by police and two were confirmed arrested.

For many at the counter protest, the calls to remove SOGI from schools are an alarming step backwards for inclusivity in education.

On Tuesday, BC Human rights commissioner spoke out against these protests, calling them “hate-fueled.” An inquiry from her office showed nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ students don't feel safe at school, compared with 11% of heterosexual students.

Kelli Kraft, a Victoria teacher who attended the counter protest, says that SOGI has improved relationships among teachers and students “across the board,” whether queer or straight. 

She says that a lot of misinformation has led to a knee-jerk reaction from those against SOGI. 

“It’s not anything big or crazy, it’s just ways of speaking that are more inclusive,” said Kraft. “I work with so many queer students at my school and they notice when [this education] is not happening—they feel less safe.”

The feeling of safety plays an important role in the classroom according to Kraft, saying medical research shows heightened fear can negatively affect education. 

“If your amygdala is activated from fear or stress the learning part of your brain can’t happen,” said Kraft. “Anyone who feels fearful in school, they’re not going to be learning properly.”

Photo: Robyn Bell / Capital Daily

“Everybody who goes to school should be able to learn about different perspectives openly without judgment and discover from themselves what makes sense,” said counter protester Anne. Anne lost her trans child to suicide and believes SOGI can provide the necessary protections for trans kids.  

“Classrooms should be a safe place for everyone,” said Anne.

Suicide among queer children was a concern for many who defended SOGI, given the high percentage of suicide and depression among 2SLGBTQ+ youth.

“It doesn’t make sense to leave your kids in the dark—keeping them in the closet often leads to suicide. Why would you want that?” said attendee Maggie STG.

Counter protester Nynko, who is trans, said that school can serve as a safe haven for those who don’t feel supported by their families.

“Sometimes kids don’t have great parents—they need someplace that’s safe where people respect and listen to them,” said Nynko. She says that trans and gender diverse identities aren’t new and should be acknowledged. 

“We’ve always mattered, we’ve always been here and we will always be here.” 

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Robyn Bell
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