/With bells on

With bells on

By Emily Stonehouse

I don’t usually struggle with words. 

Usually, they come fairly easy to me. I feel lucky in that sense. 

But this week, I hit a wall. It was a unique challenge I was trying to comprehend; I had both too many words, and no words at all. 

It started with the protest in town on Sept. 20. It was a nation-wide march, which joined together under the guise of caring about children. The irony of the matter was that these individuals paraded around town with their Maple Leafs while suffocating the rights of the children growing up in our community. Bullies with their bells on. 

But that’s just my opinion. 

Mine and over a hundred other counter-protestors who lined the paths of Head Lake Park in an attempt to offer solidarity to those who were targeted by the bullies. The counter protest was formed less than 48 hours before the event; and still had both in-person and online support from across the community. 

And as I watched these “protestors” wave signs about “science” and “education”, I listened as the counter-protestors were chanting the same things. 

Because the crux of the issue is awareness. The “protestors” believe that the school systems are corrupting their kids when educating them about trans rights, 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals, and honouring children living their authentic and true selves. 

On the flip side, the counter-protestors believe that education is a basic human right, learning about all walks of life is crucial, and celebrating similarities and differences is the path towards acceptance. 

Both sides were pushing the need for education. But one side slaps your wrist if you colour outside the lines, while the other takes your hand and holds it; through the good and the bad, the questions and the doubt, the complexities and the colours. 

I’m not going to tell you which side is right for your child. You can decide. 

Children are the future. They are the ones who will care for us as we age, who will assume the burden of our deteriorating climate, who will pave the way for civilization as we know it. 

And the irony of this protest hinging on “protecting children” when the core of the whole movement is to tell kids they can’t learn, squash the dreams they may have, and tell them they can’t be who they really are? Well, that just seems counterintuitive. 

Right before I arrived at the protest, I had come from an appointment. I had just heard the five month heartbeat of the little human I am growing. And as I watched the bullies and the counter-protesters chant back and forth, I held my stomach, and felt a little wiggle. 

Because protecting our children isn’t about who can yell the loudest. It’s about who shows up, who includes them, who listens to them, and who loves them – no matter who they become, who they grow into, and who they love. 

And while it’s heartbreaking to know my child will be born into a world where there will be people who will slap his wrist for colouring outside the lines, I know there will be others there, just to hold his hand, and celebrate him for exactly who he is. Every step of the way. With bells on.