Hundreds gathered outside the federal Harry Hays building in downtown Calgary Wednesday morning as part of a cross-Canada movement concerned about sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) curriculum in schools.
In a social media post, the ‘1 Million March 4 Children’ group said it’s ‘advocating for Canadian children’s rights against unnecessary gender ideologies.’
March organizer Mahmoud Mourra, who is also the main organizer of ‘Leave Our Kids Alone Calgary’, called the turnout ‘amazing’ and says he hoped main parents had kept their children out of school for the day as a sign of support.
Mourra says he takes exception with those who consider the march to be founded in hate.
“We should leave our kids, and their (the counter-protesters’) kids, alone until they are adults and mature enough to determine what they want out of this life. I cannot press my Islamic ideology into someone’s life. I don’t want them pressing their ideology into my kids’ life.”
Dozens of members of Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community, as well as allies, lined the block across Fourth Avenue Southwest with Pride flags and signs opposing the stance of ‘March 4 Children.’
Counter-protester Linda Hunter, a church minister and self-described LGBTQ2 ally, championed the need for acceptance.
“I’m here for trans and queer kids and for all the gay community across this province and across this country,” said Hunter. “I’m a minister in a church and I understand what this kind of ideology across the street, how it destroys lives. I have people sitting in my office and their children, their youngsters, are on the verge of suicide and I’m their to try to stop that and to help them to know that every child matters, and that they are loved by God.”
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association said the march was “part of a coordinated strike across North America to promote misinformation, intolerance and hate toward the LGBTQ+ community, as well as toward teachers who work to protect the safety and well-being of all students.”
“All students deserve to feel safe and welcome at school. Alberta teachers are tireless in their efforts to include all students and families and to protect them from discrimination at school,” said Jason Schilling in the statement. “Efforts in schools to support sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) education are not what the protesters are portraying it is.
“SOGI education is intended to ensure that sexual and diverse students, and families, feel safe in school by ensuring that all students gain a better understanding of how different students identify.”
Schilling said the outpouring of support for the LGBTQ2 community was “heartwarming and uplifting to see” during a time of great concern.
“Attacks on sexual and gender diverse students and school staff have been increasing to alarming levels and must be stopped. I encourage all Albertans and, especially, political leaders, regardless of party affiliation, to stand with teachers with open hearts and minds and to advocate for inclusive schools for all students.”
Late Wednesday, Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said SOGI is not a part of Alberta’s curriculum. He also said any courses or materials that include subject matter “that deals primarily and explicitly with religion or human sexuality” requires school boards to notify parents.
“Furthermore, parents have the ability to request that their children be excluded from any such course or program,” Nicolaides posted on social media.