Five people were arrested Friday on Ottawa’s Broadview Avenue, where hundreds of protesters gathered to “drown” and confront a man who was protesting what they called a “sexist ideology.”
Both groups shouted slogans such as “protect trans rights” and “leave the kids alone” at each other, at times being separated by a line of police officers.
Three schools and a medical center sit along or near Broadview Avenue where the demonstration took place.
On one side was Chris Allston, who has been traveling the country voicing his concerns about whether transgender children can consent to hormone blockers that delay the symptoms of puberty, and about 200 of his followers.
He wore a sandwich board that said “Kids can’t consent to stop puberty,” and he carried the same slogan when he visited the school in 2021.
On the other side was a slightly larger group of over 200 counter-protesters who came to “End Hate” as a response to Allston’s “Education Over Indoctrination” march.
Their signs featured slogans such as “Protect Trans Youth” and “Refuse to be your child’s first bully”.
“Part of the reason we compete in public spaces is to show them that we’re more than them, that their opinion is not just crap, it’s a minority,” said Emily Coyle, who Helped organize a counter-protest and a parent of a student at a Broadview public school.
“And if we don’t, if we let them take public space, they’re free to spread that rhetoric and recruit more people.”
Elston told CBC News that the counter-protesters weren’t disappointed, but he felt that “parents need to understand what their kids are being taught.”
“I’m not here to negotiate with them,” Allston said, referring to the counter-protesters. “You have to be willing to receive a message and have an open conversation. These guys aren’t willing to do that.”
Earlier in the week, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) requested that both groups move their gatherings, stressing that “schools are for learning and not for political protest.” should be made.”
Meanwhile, Ottawa Center MPP Joel Hardin promoted the counter-demonstration by tweeting that it was important to “show queer and trans youth that we stand with them.”
Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said in a tweet Friday afternoon that the protests on Broadview Avenue “should not be allowed to disrupt children and their education.”
“Schools should be a safe place for children to learn and grow, not a target for political protest,” the tweet said.
Police tweeted early in the afternoon that five people had been arrested, but did not provide further details about the arrests.
On top of the arrests, Ottawa police shut down a section of the street, which was later reopened.
In an email, an OCDSB spokesperson said schools should not be the target of political protests and thanked parents and police for their support through the demonstration.
“Hate is not welcome here. To 2SLGBTQ+ students, staff, and community members, please know that you belong and deserve to feel welcome and accepted for who you are,” the email said. went.
Among the crowd of counter-protesters was OCDSB Board of Trustees Chair Lira Evans, who, despite the school board’s statement from earlier Saturday, felt it necessary to attend.
Evans felt that the demonstrations were far from the board’s two schools.
“It’s really important that LGBTQ people see themselves represented in protests,” said Evans, a transgender woman.
“It’s really important to show up at community events and show that people in power haven’t lost their ability to support the community.”