Around 150 people rallied together at Winnipeg City Hall on Saturday to protest diversity-oriented education policies in schools. But what exactly were they protesting?
Against Parental Rights?
“Let the parents take care of it” – Some parents in Winnipeg, the capital city of Manitoba, Canada, are hitting back against Canadian school policies that include LGBTQ-inclusive education and sex education.
Some believe these “forced” policies even contravene parental rights.
City Hall Protests
Approximately 150 people gathered at Winnipeg City Hall this past weekend to protest against these policies and call for their removal from Winnipeg school curriculums.
1 Million March 4 Children
The protest was part of a wider system called 1 Million March 4 Children, which held a number of similar protests in Canada over the past few months.
The 1MM4C is often called a ‘parental rights movement’ which rallies to advocate “for Canadian children’s rights against unnecessary gender ideologies.”
Their particular target is SOGI, or sexual orientation and gender identity education.
SOGI is an inclusive term that educates students on diversity and how to make people of all genders and sexual orientations feel safe and accepted.
Some parents at the Winnipeg protest spoke to CBC News about their perspective on the Canadian education system and SOGI policies specifically.
One such person was Manpreet Singh Toor, a parent of two children who attend Winnipeg schools.
No Parental Consent
He believed that SOGI policies were forcing unwanted education on Canadian children without their parent’s consent.
“We send our kids to the school so that they can get the education on science, mathematics or English, other subjects, but not for the SOGI curriculum,” he told reporters.
Let Them Learn the Fundamentals
Another protesting parent, Leslie Kisser, agreed with Singh Toor, explaining that “I would like the education system to teach my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren some very basic fundamentals — read, write and swim. I would like them to accomplish that; they haven’t been able to.”
The Basics First
“So when you’re going off on left field for sexual orientation and identification and ideologies, can’t you accomplish the basics first and then worry about that other stuff and let the parents take care of it?” he continued.
“We’ve been doing a good job up to this point.”
But 1MM4C was far from the only protest group out in force on Saturday.
A number of groups, including the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, arranged a counterprotest at the same time at the Manitoba legislature.
Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion
Cynthia Taylor, vice-president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, took part in counterprotests to help support the promotion of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” in schools.
“We’re not only working again with families and schools, but alongside our teaching staff to make sure that people feel that they have a sense of community and safe spaces in schools,” she said.
Making Communities Safe
She also declared that the Teacher’s Society is “against transphobia, homophobia, and racism,” continuing that “we want to make sure that we are working with that curriculum and the resources […] to make sure that schools and families and communities feel safe.”
Sending a Message
Taylor then sent a message to the 1MM4C protestors. S
he urged them to connect with their schools in order to “really understand what’s happening,” saying that “maybe some of the misinformation they received or misunderstanding can really be rectified by connecting with schools and families.”
It’s Not About LGBTQ
But protestors like Singh Toor believe their issue is simple. In his words, it is not an issue with LGBTQ people but with parental rights.
“When I am 18, you are 18, it’s all your rights. Wherever you want to go, you can, you’re free,” he claimed. “But up to the age of 17, it’s [the] parents’ right to grow the kids.”
We Stand Firm
Manitoba Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine is another representative who attended the counterprotests.
In a written statement, he declared that the Canadian government “stands firm in support of 2SLGBTQI+ Manitobans, and against any form of discrimination or intimidation that puts the lives of 2SLGBTQI+ youth at risk.”
Putting Youth at Risk
“There is no place for hate in our province,” the statement concluded. “ Targeting members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities — particularly transgender and gender-diverse youth — through fear and division is unacceptable and puts the lives of Manitoba youth at risk.”
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