Approximately 40 protesters, expressing anti-2SLGBTQ+ sentiments, were met with a resounding display of solidarity from over 200 passionate and brightly adorned counter-protesters today. The vibrant atmosphere, filled with Pride flags, balloons, music, singing, and dancing, effectively overshadowed the intended messaging of the original protesters.
The organizers of the demonstration labelled it a "Save the kids" protest, utilizing social media to spread their misleading and bigoted views. Their statements criticized various aspects, including gender ideology, pride flags, reading material, the trans agenda, political agendas, and the presence of sexuality-related information in schools. The chosen slogan, "The grooming of our kids is unacceptable," epitomized the misinformation propagated by the protesters.
While the anti-2SLGBTQ+ group arrived shortly after 10:45 a.m., many of the counter-protesters had been present for over an hour, eagerly awaiting their arrival with rainbow flags, signs, music, and more. The protesters drove down Wembley Drive with Canadian flags displayed from their vehicles, honking as they passed. Parking at a distance, they made their way past the counter-protesters, shouting about their belief in a Christian god's creation of only man and woman. They claimed that the school board was grooming and indoctrinating children with information about sexuality, expressing anger over the display of Pride flags in the area's schools.
One woman specifically mentioned elementary schools displaying Pride flags, although in Sudbury, they are only flown at secondary schools.
Many counter-protesters expressed their concerns about the lack of education leading to an increase in suicides among young people. Transgender youth in Canada are five times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their cisgender counterparts.
The counter-protest gained momentum through a social media post by local business owner Michael Sauvé, who called for action. The response exceeded expectations, with the counter-protest ultimately dwarfing the other group.
Sauvé, a gay man who owns and operates The Cake Guy, felt compelled to take a stand against the anti-2SLGBTQ+ messaging. Reflecting on his own experiences of bullying during high school, he made a swift post and was overwhelmed by the support. Sauvé hoped that every person received one of the rainbow cupcakes he offered, with kindness in their hearts, knowing that "love will triumph over anything that the other group opposes."
During the protest, the anti-2SLGBTQ+ side briefly offered a microphone to the counter-protesters. In response, counter-protesters posed questions such as, "Why are you here, and why do you harbour so much hate?" The anti-2SLGBTQ+ protesters claimed their goal was to "protect the children." However, after 10 minutes, both sides disengaged at the request of undercover Greater Sudbury Police officers. Uniformed officers arrived shortly thereafter.
At one point, the anti-2SLGBTQ+ protesters shouted at their opposition, asserting, "We're protecting our kids!" In a spirited response, a young individual yelled back, "We're kids! And we're proudly gay!"
The protest continued for several hours under the scorching sun, with a standoff occurring on either side of the entrance to the school board parking lot. While heated moments ensued during passionate exchanges, the protest remained peaceful overall. At various intervals, members from each side intervened to calm emotions or de-escalate any confrontational behaviour.
In a statement to Sudbury.com, the Rainbow District School Board affirmed its commitment to diversity and the creation of warm, welcoming, safe, kind, accepting, and supportive environments in Rainbow Schools.
Anti-LGBTQ+ protesters recently picketed the Rainbow School Board office, sparking a counter-protest from over 200 individuals. The anti-LGBTQ+ protesters spread misinformation and expressed their opposition to queer education in schools, claiming it to be indoctrination. However, the counter-protesters effectively drowned out their messaging with colourful attire, signs, and two booming stereo systems playing lively music. Despite some heated moments, law enforcement intervened to maintain peace.
The Rainbow School Board responded to the protest by reaffirming its commitment to inclusive and supportive environments for all students. This is not the first time the board has faced opposition, as a previous drag show was cancelled due to controversy. However, the board remains supportive of queereducation and embraces diversity.
Overall, the counter-protest successfully overshadowed the anti-LGBTQ+ protesters, demonstrating a strong community response in support of inclusivity and acceptance in schools.