Many parents ‘confrontational,’ counterprotester says, as no ‘serious incidents’ reported in Hamilton
Published September 20, 2023 at 4:48 pm
No one was arrested during protests and counterprotests about gender identity education in Hamilton today, but one counterprotester said many parents at the rally were “disrespectful and confrontational.”
The “1 Million March 4 Children” rally took place in Hamilton and other cities across the country Wednesday (Sept. 20), protesting schools’ gender identity curriculum. Counterprotests, which denounced the rally as hateful towards the marginalized 2SLGBTQIA+ community, were held in tandem.
Hamilton police confirmed to inthehammer.com that “no serious incidents” happened during the event in the city as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. Although police would not confirm that they deployed their officers specifically at the “1 Million March 4 Children” rally and counterprotest, local media and a counter-protester interviewed by inthehammer.com reported that the protests took place in the area of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board office at 20 Education Court.
Hamilton police said it deployed its public order unit at the site of protests “due to escalating behaviour” between two groups.
Elizabeth Creighton said she attended the counterprotests in Hamilton today (Sept. 20), where she estimated there were several hundred protesters and counterprotesters each, though she thinks there were “slightly more” protesters than the latter.
She arrived at around 11 a.m. to find protesters gathered at the HWDSB building and the counterprotesters were on Education Court, near the intersection with Upper Wentworth.
She said lots of cars were honking for the counterprotesters as they drove by.
The two groups stayed put for about 15 minutes. “And then the protestors marched towards the counterprotestors, I’m assuming to confront us,” she said in an email to inthehammer.com. “I didn’t witness any violent incidents or arrests, but some of the protestors definitely seemed interested in escalating and getting in people’s faces — they were way more confrontational than the counterprotestors were … it’s pretty clear that there was a lot of hate in this crowd. ”
Creighton said she didn’t interact with “some very angry people” who yelled “obscenities” as she stood on the side of the road holding her sign that read “Protect Trans Kids.” She said they called her “a child abuser,” a “(genital) mutilator” and “child-hater.”
“I didn’t engage with them at all, which actually made some of them more angry.”
She observed many children with the protesters. “I think it’s actually great to bring your kids to protests and teach them how to exercise their voices — but so many of these parents were acting really disrespectful and confrontational, and frightening their kids with the disgusting things they were screaming at the counterprotestors,” she said. “It’s just sad that these parents put their own interests ahead of their kids’ like that; they were just using them as pawns. And I really feel for the closeted gay and trans kids that were dragged along by their parents, who are now probably terrified of ever showing their true selves to their family.”
Police said Upper Wentworth in Hamilton was shut down earlier today “for public safety.”
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. “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.”
Group behind rally wants government to ‘respect the rights of parents’
Dave Bellucci (@BellucciDa65384), who said he was at the rally, posted on X that the rally was “peaceful…I was there, I didn’t see any haters.”
The “1 Million March 4 Children” organizers didn’t immediately return inthehammer.com’s request for comment. They say they are protesting Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity 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.”
Along with five councillors, Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath expressed her opposition to the rally and support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
The “1 Million March 4 Children” organizers explained on their website why they were opposed to the gender ideology 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 tattoos 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.”inthehammer's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising