Two people were arrested at a transphobic protest that took place outside a Calgary high school on Wednesday.
The demonstration on the grounds of Western Canada High School in the 600 block of 17 Avenue S.W. was led by Josh Alexander, an Ontario teen who previously protested the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board’s decision to allow transgender teens to use bathrooms according to their gender identity.
It was also organized by True Dominion Canada, an ultra-conservative group led by Nathaniel Pawlowski, son of Calgary street preacher Artur Pawlowski.
The poster for the protest featured transphobic and homophobic statements, claiming “radical gender ideology” is “sexualizing children.”
Both Nathaniel and Josh were met by a group of counter-protesters, some of which are students at the high school.
A spokesperson for the Calgary Police Service told Global News around 80 people attended the protest, but numbers fluctuated throughout the day.
Police said a fight broke out between “several individuals of opposing views,” resulting in the arrests of two people who were released without charges.
Officers said they tried to separate the protesters and the counter-protesters, and no further “physical altercations” were made before the protest ended at around 1 p.m.
Police did not specify if the two people arrested were protesters or counter-protesters.
“The Calgary Police Service recognizes the Charter rights of everyone to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The overall objective is to work with all parties to ensure public and officer safety and to maintain orderly conduct and peace,” the CPS said in an emailed statement to Global News.
“We police behaviour, not beliefs.”
The protest comes as the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) tweeted on Wednesday morning it stands against hate of all forms as part of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
The CBE said in an emailed statement to Global News it does not support the protest, saying the school board works together with teachers, students and parents to create safe and inclusive school communities.
Everyone has the right to be open about their sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity without fear of “unwanted consequences,” the school board said.
However, the CBE noted students were still expected to attend classes during a regular school day and anyone who was not in class would be marked with an unexcused absence.
The protest also comes as crimes against the LGBTQ2 community continue to rise. Between 2019 and 2021, there was a 64 per cent uptick in hate crimes targeting sexual orientation, according to Statistics Canada.
In March, GSA Alta. tweeted about an alleged gun threat directed at the LGBTQ2 community in Calgary.
The person allegedly said if police do not defend the anti-trans protesters, they will defend themselves and “will not come unarmed.” He also appeared to promise “there will be blood.”
In February, two Chinook Blast events were postponed over safety concerns due to anti-LGBTQ2 protests.
- 1 person in critical condition after shooting in Calgary
- City of Calgary partners with Fort Calgary to build residential school memorial
- Town of Banff urges residents to remove fruit, trees after The Boss comes to visit
- Calgary long-term care COVID-19 outbreaks come as seniors’ advocates call for more info