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Police officers got between protesters and counter protesters as tempers flared at Halifax's Grand Parade Square. (Photo by Joe Thomson).

Hundreds gather in Halifax for dueling protests over gender identity curriculum in schools

By Joe Thomson Sep 20, 2023 | 4:21 PM

There was a heavy police presence at Halifax’s Grand Parade Square Wednesday morning as nearly 1200 protesters and counter-protesters squared off over gender inclusive education in public schools.

Tensions were high as the group 1 Million March 4 Children showed up waving signs and flags to express their concern that sexual orientation and gender identity programs being taught in B.C.’s public schools would make its way to Nova Scotia’s curriculum.

Scores of counter-protesters showed up toting Pride and trans flags, often drowning out the protesters with chants of “Protect trans children!” Hundreds of people were present, and the Halifax Regional Police were on high alert to make sure the situation did not get out of hand.

One 16-year-old was arrested and is facing charges of assault with a weapon, mischief, property damage and causing a disturbance.

Many people have described the protesting groups rhetoric as dangerous and hateful as it directly discriminates against the transgender community. Despite high tensions from both sides, the protest remained relatively peaceful, aside from some reports of the March 4 Children group throwing water bottles at the counter-protesters.

Political leaders weigh in

Premier Tim Houston issued the following statement via email and through his Twitter account:

“No matter who you are, who you love, or how you identify, Nova Scotians deserve to live without fear and intimidation. Our government supports the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and growing safe and inclusive communities across our province,” said Houston.

Meanwhile, Liberal leader Zach Churchill says he firmly stands against discrimination and supports every Canadian’s right to pursue their own identity.

“Members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are really feeling that there’s groups that are out to get them right now, and that’s a scary thing. So, we have to remind ourselves that here in Canada, all of these people are all Canadians, and we all have rights that are sacred here in this country,” said Churchill.

Among the counter-protesters was Nova Scotia’s NDP leader, Claudia Chender, who said she was moved by the amount of people who came out to show solidarity and condemn hate in all its forms.

“I think there’s a lot of misinformation involved in this march, and I think a lot of the signs that I saw that used words like grooming, and things like that, I just reject that, patently,” said Chender.

“I’m a parent of three children and I want my children to grow up happy, and safe, and educated. And in order for them to do that, they need to understand themselves and understand the world around them.”

The protest was one of many taking place across Canada. Municipalities around the country, including Kelowna, Charlottetown, Whitehorse, and Halifax, have issued statements about the protests saying they support the right to protest but are fully behind the LGBTQ community.