Hamilton mayor, six councillors oppose rally protesting gender identity curriculum in schools


Published September 20, 2023 at 1:39 pm

Courtesy: Hamilton Pride Facebook

Hamilton’s mayor and six councillors have denounced a nationwide rally protesting the teaching of gender identity in schools, voicing their concerns about “hateful rhetoric” they said would harm the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. 

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.”

Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath expressed her opposition to the rally, which is taking place in Hamilton along with other cities across Canada, and support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

“With anti-2SLGBTQIA+ hate incidents on the rise, not just in our city, but around the country, I am extremely concerned for the wellbeing of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community members, especially our young people,” Horwath wrote in a public statement issued Tuesday, Sept. 19. “While our Charter protects people’s right to protest, the promotion of hateful rhetoric that shames, denies, and erases members of our community will never be welcomed or tolerated here in this city. As Mayor, as a Hamiltonian, as a mother, and as a human being, I stand against hate, in all its forms.”

The group behind “1 Million March 4 Children” wrote on its Facebook page that its mission is “to safeguard children from gender ideology teachings, sexual indoctrination, and exposure to explicit sexual content, and to ensure that parental consent remains paramount. We will protect our children from thought control and will ensure their religious freedoms are protected.”

The group didn’t immediately respond to inthehammer.com‘s questions.

Police monitoring situation, say there’s ‘no room for hate’

Hamilton police deployed its public order unit at the site of protests “due to escalating behaviour” between two groups.

“There were no arrests or serious incidents,” police told inthehammer.com as of 4 this afternoon. 

Police said Upper Wentworth in Hamilton was shut down earlier today “for public safety.” 

Police didn’t state what the protest was about when asked by inthehammer.com, but the “1 Million March 4 Children” rally today across the country, protesting schools’ gender identity curriculum, had sparked heated opposition. Local media reported that the protests took place at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board office at 20 Education Court.

When asked earlier today if Hamilton police had any concerns about hate crimes occurring at the rally, spokesperson Jackie Penman told inthehammer.com that police are aware of the protest and “have an operational plan in place.”

“We respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” she wrote in an email. “Our Police Liaison Team are involved and working with all stakeholders. There is no room for hate in our community. Hamilton Police are onsite. Our goal is to keep the peace and maintain a safe environment for everyone.”

Councillors denounce ‘1 Million March 4 Children’ rally

Couuncillor Nrinder Nann and five other councillors echoed the same concerns as the mayor. “I remain in solidarity with Hamiltonians in saying #NoHateInTheHammer and I commit to do everything I can with my Council colleagues to combat all forms of hate in #HamOnt!,” Nann posted on X.

She included an image with a message from her and councillors Maureen Wilson, Tammy Hwang, Cameron Kroetsch, Craig Cassar and Alex Wilson. It was titled “Hamilton Elected Representatives United Against Hate,” which stated they are opposing the rally and will “continue to rise up to denounce organized hate that seeks to terrorize and evoke fear in our communities across Hamilton.”

The post stated that the rally is not the first time the city has been “forced to confront organized hate in Hamilton.”

It said hate groups from other cities have committed violence targeting the  marginalized community and “disrupting inclusive events that were designed to cultivate a sense of belonging.”

The post added: “We are with you in solidarity and will do everything we can, as governors and legislators, to combat hate in our city.”

In addition, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board issued a joint statement from HWDSB director Sheryl Robinson Petrazzini and chair Dawn Danko on potential protests at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Education Centre.

“Based on information available, the protest and potential walk out at schools seeks to challenge policies and supports in schools which uphold the human rights of individuals with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions,” they wrote.

“HWDSB remains unwavering in our commitment to support and uphold the human rights of transgender, non-binary, gender diverse and all Two Spirit LGBTQIA+ students, staff, families and community members. …. While we respect the right to freedom of expression, we do not support targeted protests against specific communities. Hate has no home at HWDSB.”

The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board is ” not aware of any protests that took place in close proximity to our schools,”
spokesperson Angelica Tarli told inthehammer.com in an email.

The “1 Million March 4 Children” organizers explained why they were opposed to the gender identity curriculum by saying that “certain decisions, especially those that have permanent, life-changing consequences, should be made when an individual is mature enough to fully grasp their implications.”

They compared the decisions, implying it was about gender-affirming surgeries, to protecting children from getting a tattoo when they are too young. They said, “we similarly believe they should be protected from making irreversible decisions about their bodies at a young age.”

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