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Protests, counter-protests across the north Wednesday

Protests and counter-protests about gender inclusive education are taking place in communities across northeastern Ontario, here is a look at what is happening and why.

The protests are part of a cross-country "one million person march for children" for people who are "against gender ideology in schools" and counter-protests have also been set up by people who value the rights of gender diverse students.

Protestors and counter-protestors gather in the courtyard of Greater Sudbury's city hall, Tom Davies Square. Sept. 20/23 (Alana Everson/CTV Northern Ontario)

"Uniting diverse backgrounds and faiths, we share a resolute purpose: advocating for the elimination of the sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools," the one milllion march website said.

IN SUDBURY

Drivers in Sudbury may want to avoid the intersection of Brady and Paris streets Wednesday as a protest and counter-protest about gender inclusive education are taking place.

While at Cinefest over the last two nights, I have come out of the movie theatre to my car to find flyers promoting the protest Sept. 20.

As of Wednesday morning, the QR code and one of the two websites listed on the flyer do not work.

Sudbury protest flyer for '1 million march 4 kids' left on vehicles parked at Silver City. Sept. 19/23 (Chelsea Papineau/CTV Northern Ontario)

The 1millionmarch4kids.com promoted on flyers for a Sept. 20 event does not exist. Sept. 20/23 (Chelsea Papineau/CTV Northern Ontario)

NO SPACE FOR HATE

In response to the march/protest, several groups in Sudbury are also organizing counter-protests starting at 8 a.m.

Counter-protestors at Greater Sudbury city hall. Sept. 20/23 (Amanda Hicks/CTV Northern Ontario)

Ontario Federation of Labour is organizing support for 2SLGBTQIA+ communities as well as the Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre.

"Don't be fooled: this is not about the safety of our children. This is hate masking itself as protection and concern," SWEAC said on its social media event page.

"This is an attack on the inclusion of 2SLGBTQIA+ in our society. This is an attempt to bully, intimidate and silence children and parents who live and love outside a 'traditional', binary, family structure."

Protestors gather against gender inclusive education in schools at Tom Davies Square in downtown along with counter-protestors. Sept. 20/23 (Amanda Hicks/CTV Northern Ontario)

When CTV News asked the federal ministry for women and gender equality and youth how it is preparing for the protest, a spokesperson from Marci Ien's office sent an email statement.

"Minister Ien will not be participating in the Million Person March or affiliated events on Wednesday, Sept. 20.  As we recognize Gender Equality Week in Canada, equality and safety are of paramount importance to the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality and Youth," the statement said.

"It is the obligation of every government to protect the equality and safety of all Canadians, and imperative that our shared responsibility to respectful discussion keeps the rights of Canadians of all ages at the forefront of these issues."

Protestors against gender inclusive education in schools gather with counter-protestors in the courtyard of Tom Davies Square ahead of two planned rallies. Sept. 20/23 (Amanda Hicks/CTV Northern Ontario)

Greater Sudbury Police Service is prepared to keep the peace during the two rallies.

"Officers from our police liaison unit, who are trained in public order maintenance and crowd management, have been assigned," police spokesperson Sarah Kaelas told CTV News in an email.

"The Greater Sudbury Police Service respects everyone’s right to lawful protest and peaceful assembly. Our overall goal is to ensure public safety."

WHY INCLUSIVITY IS IMPORTANT

While the 'Hands off our Kids' group says it wants to "protect all children," it also wants to remove gender identity and expression from the human rights code and ban gender-affirming care for people under the age of 18.

Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre hosted a sign-making party ahead of Wednesday's protest and counter-protest. Sept. 20/23 (Supplied)

The Suicide Prevention Resource Centre said lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are five times more likely to consider suicide and seven times more likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual youth.

A 2015 study found one in three transgender youth attempted suicide in the past year, the Mental Health Commission of Canada said on its website.

"Trans people are two times more likely to think about and attempt suicide than LGB people," a 2104 study found.

Discrimination, lack of family support and institutional prejudice are some factors that increase the risk of suicide for queer youth.

When it comes to reducing the risk, community and school support, self-awareness and acceptance, strong relationships with family and friends and seeing past traditional societal views can help.

IN NORTH BAY

A similar scene is playing outside the city hall in North Bay on Wednesday.

Supporters and critics of gender inclusive education in schools gather in North Bay

"Parents want literacy. They want math and they want school to be the place where school is the best opportunities and we realize people have lots of ideas," Dan Arcand told video journalist Eric Taschner at the North Bay rally.

Ashley Di Benedetto helped organized the counter-protest in North Bay.

"Without providing the education to our kids about what healthy relationships look like, what healthy and safe sex looks like what different identities and what different families look like, we're doing a disservice," Di Benedetto said.

Supporters and critics of gender inclusive education in schools gather in North Bay

Supporters and critics of gender inclusive education in schools gather in North Bay

Supporters and critics of gender inclusive education in schools gather in North Bay

IN SAULT STE. MARIE

The march in Sault Ste. Marie began at Station Mall and ended at city hall.

Anti-woke, 'save our children' crowd at Sault Ste. Marie protest. Sept. 20/23 (Mike McDonald/CTV Northern Ontario)

Sault police keep the peace at protest against gender inclusive education. Sept. 20/23 (Mike McDonald/CTV Northern Ontario)

The 'Save Our Children' protestors in Sault Ste. Marie. Sept. 20/23 (Mike McDonald/CTV Northern Ontario)

Counter-protestors for inclusive education at Sault Ste. Marie rally. Sept. 20/23 (Mike McDonald/CTV Northern Ontario)

IN TIMMINS

Dozens of people lined Algonquin Boulevard in Timmins to share their views about gender ideology.

Dozens of people lined Algonquin Boulevard in Timmins on Wednesday to share their views about gender ideology. (Lydia Chubak/CTV News)

Dozens of people lined Algonquin Boulevard in Timmins on Wednesday to share their views about gender ideology. (Lydia Chubak/CTV News)

Dozens of people lined Algonquin Boulevard in Timmins on Wednesday to share their views about gender ideology. (Lydia Chubak/CTV News)

 

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