Skip to main content

Protesters arrested on Vancouver Island as groups clash over 'gender ideology' in schools

Share

At least three people were arrested Wednesday as protesters and counter-protesters gathered in Nanaimo and Victoria to argue about the way schools teach sexuality and gender identity, and how teachers refer to transgender students.

A man with a bullhorn, who had been declaring his opposition to children deciding their own gender identities, was chased down and tackled by Nanaimo RCMP officers after getting into a physical altercation outside of Nanaimo's city hall.

A man with a bullhorn, who had been declaring his opposition to children deciding their own gender identities, was chased down and tackled by Nanaimo RCMP officers after getting into a physical altercation outside of Nanaimo's city hall on Sept. 20, 2023. (CTV News)

Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson Const. Gary O'Brien said the man would likely be detained until the demonstrations were over.

Hundreds more demonstrators had gathered at the B.C. legislature in Victoria, where two people were arrested early Wednesday afternoon.

The Victoria Police Department urged residents to avoid the B.C. legislature grounds, saying the area had "become unsafe" as approximately 2,500 people attended the demonstrations amid "escalating tensions."

The Vancouver Island rallies were among dozens happening across the country as self-declared members of the group 1 Million March 4 Children advocated for the "elimination of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools," according to the group's website.

Counter-demonstrators, meanwhile, accused protesters of importing American culture wars into the country and trying to deny students important lessons about inclusion and respect for gender-diverse people.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted about the Canada-wide protests, saying, "Transphobia, homophobia, and biphobia have no place in this country. We strongly condemn this hate and its manifestations, and we stand united in support of 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians across the country – you are valid and you are valued."

Clint Johnston, the president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation, wrote a letter to B.C. Premier David Eby about the union's concerns about the planned protests.

He said they're part of a co-ordinated attack against the transgender and LGBTQ communities.

A man with a bullhorn, who had been declaring his opposition to children deciding their own gender identities, was chased down and tackled by Nanaimo RCMP officers after getting into a physical altercation outside of Nanaimo's city hall on Sept. 20, 2023. (CTV News)

"These rallies are part of a movement across North America that uses 'parental consent' as a dog whistle for rising homophobia and transphobia. This movement is concerning and must be stopped," he said in the letter.

In response to Johnston's letter, the premier said school must be a place where every student feels secure and it's upsetting to see misinformation and disinformation used to attack vulnerable children and youth.

"Without hesitation, I denounce threats, hate and violence against 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. We are seeing a concerning rise in incidents where trans people are being targeted with threats and violence in person and online," Eby said in the statement.

"We cannot and must not stand idly by in the face of any kind of bullying. Any political leader who targets our most vulnerable, at-risk children and youth is no leader at all."

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs also expressed support for the counter-protesters Wednesday, saying in a statement that it stands with those who "reject hate and discrimination to defend the rights of our 2-spirit, trans and non-binary family and friends."

With files from The Canadian Press

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

The Israel-Hamas war is testing whether campuses are sacrosanct places for speech and protest

Administrators on some campuses have called in local police to break up pro-Palestinian protesters demanding that their schools divest from Israel in demonstrations that Israel's allies say are antisemitic and make campuses unsafe. From Columbia University in New York to the University of California, Los Angeles, thousands of students and faculty have been arrested in the past month.

Stay Connected