Around 250 people showed up at two opposing rallies in downtown Calgary on Saturday.
The two groups of protestors were separated by MacLeod Trail — on one side were worried about transgender individuals in change rooms and children being exposed to drag shows.
“I’m here to protect the rights of children to be safe and secure,” said protester Judy Frame. “Women and children should be safe and everyone has rights.”
There have been demonstrations outside Canyon Meadows Pool recently based on allegations of indecent exposure in a change room, but Calgary police say the incident did not take place as reported on social media and there was no act of indecent exposure.
Supporters of transgender rights say transgender women have the absolute right to use the women’s change room.
“If you want to control what your children see, fine, that’s your truth, but just take yourself into a different area. Don’t try and make other people go by your way of living. If you don’t want to see somebody naked, you can change that for yourself. You can’t make the rest of the world do it for you,” said Arifah Abkey, who was at the counter-protest on Saturday.
“It’s not your right to tell someone how to live their life just because it’s different than yours. Who are you to dictate that?”
The Calgary Public Library postponed a drag story time event that was supposed to be held on Saturday at the Southwood branch in the interest of ensuring safety.
The library says what happened last weekend inside Seton Library was not a protest.
“It was an organized, targeted and intimidating disruption of a program in a space where small children were present,” said the CPL in a statement.
The library has partnered with Calgary Pride to host Reading with Royalty events for over five years.
“This program is a popular, family-friendly event that celebrates inclusion and imagination through stories and songs.
“All performers and staff complete training to ensure that events are kid-friendly and entertaining. The suggestion that it is anything else is categorically untrue and rooted in misinformation and intolerance,” said CPL.
The decision to delay the Reading with Royalty event comes as Calgary police have charged a local pastor in relation to the incident at the Seton library.
Officers responded to reports that several people had aggressively entered a library classroom shouting homophobic and transphobic slurs at the children and parents in attendance.
Some people at Saturday’s protest say drag events and kids should not mix.
“The all-age drag queens just leave the children alone until they’re 18 and don’t expose them to anything,” said Paul Marsh.
“They can learn their own sexuality when they’re 18 or 20. Just leave them alone to let them discover it for themselves,” he said.
Supporters of Reading with Royalty say it’s all about exposing kids to reading and to different people.
“In a lot of cases we’ve been asked to come to read a story, or do a little song and dance kind of thing. It’s nothing to do with pushing an agenda. It has everything to do with showing kids a diverse, fun time and encouraging them to be exposed to people who are different from them and be OK with that,” said Seth Kay.
Police say no charges were laid at Saturday’s event at city hall.