By Emily Stonehouse
On Sept. 20, a protest was scheduled for Head Lake Park titled the ‘1 Million March 4 Children’.
The idea behind the march was to fight against the current public school curriculum, which teaches diversity, inclusion, and 2SLGBTQIA+ areas of interest. According to the nation-wide website, participants were adamant about “advocating for the elimination of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.”
The march was scheduled to occur in communities around the country, but when word got out about the transphobic undertones of the protest, people started standing up. “It’s a rhetoric I didn’t think we’d ever have to experience here in Canada,” said Minden Pride chair Allan Guinan, “we had people in tears. If this is removed from the curriculum, what does that say to the queer community? You’re saying we don’t exist. And that’s very offensive to those of us trying to make a difference in the community.”
While counter protests sprouted up across the country, Haliburton County jumped onboard. In less than 48 hours, the movement gained momentum across various online platforms, resulting in well over 100 attending the day of; more than the number of attendees at the originally scheduled protest.
“We had established ahead of time with the protestors that this would be a peaceful protest,” shared Guinan, “but what was missing was an opportunity for any dialogue, and really, we all wanted the same thing.”
Guinan was referencing the desire for education, safety, and protection of children and youth. “But one group is doing that by withholding information, and the other is being open and educating people,” he said.
While some protestors marched strictly for the change in the curriculum, Guinan noted that there were others that seemed to have a more transparent agenda. “There was much more blatant homophobia seen than what we were expecting,” he said, “and we noticed that by what was written on some of the signs.”
The silver lining to the emotionally charged day was the support seen in the form of the counter protest. “In the eight years that Minden Pride has been around in the Haliburton Highlands, we now see we have an audience. A base of people that believe in the same values we are supporting,” he said. “So together, we can find solutions and opportunities to help wherever we can.”