Tomorrow there will be a series of coordinated mobilisations targeting 2SLGBTQIA+ and particularly trans rights across Canada, which are styling themselves as a so-called 'one million march for children'.
But make no mistake: there are not expected to be million people participating and these mobilizations do not serve children’s rights or protection.
Rather, they are part of an orchestrated effort by largely extremist actors to stigmatise and attack trans and wider 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and inclusive education initiatives as allegedly 'sexualising' or otherwise harmful towards children. As we have made clear previously these kinds of claims are false, highly offensive, and harmful. It is demeaning and unacceptable for our communities to be repeatedly asked to defend ourselves against them.
Importantly, these kinds of campaigns also work against children’s rights and protection, as well as gender justice and human rights. They help foster environments in which 2SLGBTQIA+ children and young people are more likely to be bullied and less likely to report genuine safeguarding concerns. They also create educational environments that are less safe for ALL children and young people.
Kelowna Pride Society loudly and proudly denounces these campaigns and call on elected officials, policy makers, schools, school boards, educational bodies, parents, young people, and wider allies, to do the same.
We have also been tracking these campaigns closely, including a protest planned for the Kelowna downtown area tomorrow.
In close and ongoing consultation with other community groups and individuals in the city, we took a shared decision that we should avoid giving these efforts the oxygen of publicity they seek, by publicising an official counter-protest or playing this in the media.
We also took this decision because we are concerned that extremist actors will attend protests, potentially exposing our communities to violence and abuse. We also recognize the harm that is often done to our communities by being drawn into and exposed to hateful rhetoric and situations.
We firmly believe that the forces for love, justice, and equality outnumber those for hatred, fear, and division. So, we will be working together with other groups and individuals in the community to organise an affirming, inclusive, educational, and celebratory event in the upcoming weeks, on a different date. Please watch this space for more details!
We also joined with Advocacy Canada and TransParent Okanagan to send a letter to the City of Kelowna's Mayor and Council, in which we urged them issue a public statement 'affirming that the City of Kelowna is a welcoming community that supports diversity, and where attacks on the 2SLGBTQIA+ community have no place'. We will be following up with this request to ensure actors from across the political spectrum are standing up for our communities, and for a safe and inclusive Kelowna.
We will also be updating our social media profiles picture with the ‘No Space for Hate’ poster (see below) and encourage others to do the same.
Finally, we recognise that not everyone will agree with our position and will decide they wish to counterprotest tomorrow. If you do decide to do so, please whilst you are there, place real value on yourselves and your safety, and try to avoid getting drawn into conversations or situations that could expose you, any further, to misrepresentation or abuse. Some safety resources are included below.
Canadian Anti-Hate Network: Important context about the '1 Million March 4 Children'
No Space for Hate graphic