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Canadian LGBTQ+ youth centre attacked by extremist Libs of Tik-Tok

The hateful messaging targeting the LGBTQ+ youth centre includes death threats and other violent comments on social media

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Photo Credit: OutLoud North Bay

NORTH BAY, Ontario, Canada – The LGBTQ+ youth centre in this quiet city located about three hours North of Toronto is currently under siege with death threats and extremist anti-LGBTQ+ bullying. In fact the flow of hate washing over this small centre is a virtual tsunami.

The striking aspect to all of this ugly vitriol is that a massive percentage is coming from online, in text, voice mail messages and comments left on the centre’s social media accounts- outside of Canada.

CTV Northern Ontario journalist Eric Taschner reported Friday that the catalyst was a post two days earlier by the right-wing anti-LGBTQ+ Libs of Tik-Tok social media accounts that contained the announcement by OutLoud North Bay Centre for its scheduled youth drag show, slated for July 15. 

What happened next was beyond shocking Taschner told the Blade in a phone call Saturday afternoon. In fact the hateful actions by the outside sources has involved the North Bay Police Service and badly scared the centre’s youth as well as overwhelmed its director Seth Compton.

Speaking to CTV Northern Ontario, Compton said his staff and even youth who attend the space have been targeted.

“I got up at 4 a.m. to thousands of emails, tweets, messages on social media platforms that were so discriminatory and full of hate,” Compton said Friday, fighting back tears. “The average person wouldn’t be able to bear that … Never in my 47 years have I ever experienced this.”

The messages and comments include a range of obscene accusations and comments, he said.

“People are sharing my personal photo saying I’m a pedophile and adults here should be tossed into a wood chipper,” Compton said. “Kids have received messages that they’re groomed and parents have received messages that they’re child abusers.”

Compton briefly texted with the Blade Saturday noting: “I can send you our media release. Now that I’ve had a minute. I don’t know if I can add to what took place yesterday. I’m emotionally broken. I am an advocate but I’m human too and need a minute.  I’m afraid to draw any more attention-  because ‘Libs of Tik-Tok’ have seemed to move on to something new. The hate and harassment hasn’t stopped but I couldn’t handle a second wave of hate to that extent. My focus moving forward is the kids. We need to keep them safe.”

CTV’s Taschner told the Blade that the levels of animosity and the hate expressed were unlike any seen prior and noted that there were hate-filled ugly posts from nations way beyond even the United States.

Earlier this Spring, The Washington Post’s reporter Taylor Lorenz confirmed that Chaya Raichik is behind formerly anonymous ‘Libs of TikTok.’ The influential anti-LGBTQ account has has been trademarked as a “news reporter service” by a Republican operative, although the Washington Post notes that “Raichik has claimed to run the account alone.”

In a profile written by Slate magazine’s Jeremy Stahl, reported that Raichik, a Brooklyn, New York real estate agent, “has become a powerful voice in the culture wars, pushing discourse designed to demonize supporters of LGBTQ rights as sexually predatory “groomers” of children.”

The account has been promoted by podcast host Joe Rogan, it’s been featured in the New York Post, the Federalist, the Post Millennial and a slew of other right-wing news sites. Meghan McCain has retweeted it. The online influencer Glenn Greenwald has amplified it to his 1.8 million Twitter followers while calling himself the account’s “Godfather.”

Last April, Raichik appeared anonymously on Tucker Carlson’s show to complain about being temporarily suspended for violating Twitter’s community guidelines. Fox News often creates news packages around the content that Libs of TikTok has surfaced.

Slate also noted in its piece that Raichik has also made a name for herself by helping to blow up fights within school systems and among teachers and students, even getting a number of teachers removed from their jobs.

More problematic however is that Raichik is inspiring a virtual army of anti-LGBTQ+ adherents including the White Supremacist group, the Proud Boys, to take direct action against these events. Over the course of this past Pride Month alone, the Proud Boys have disrupted over ten LGBTQ+ events ranging from Drag Queen Story hours to Pride events.

In a column a week ago, Blade columnist James Finn pointed out that the Proud Boys have particularly targeted family Pride events, succeeding in having several postponed or cancelled through acts of disruption designed to sow fear and even terror.

In one highly publicised incident in the Northern California city of Woodland, the Proud Boys attempted to enter a bar & restaurant hosting an all-ages drag show. However, their efforts were stymied by bar patrons who defended the entrance and pepper-sprayed the white supremacists.

“Fuck you, pedophile motherfuckers!” shouted the masked man as patrons of the Mojo Lounge pepper sprayed him to stop him and other members of the Proud Boys from forcing their way inside.

A year ago in February of 2021, Canada’s public safety minister, Bill Blair, announced the addition of the Proud Boys, an organization founded in 2016 by a Canadian living in the U.S and two neo-Nazi networks, Atomwaffen and The Base, to Canada’s terror entity list.

While The Proud Boys has not been identified as a component entity of the attack on the North Bay OutLoud youth centre, a senior FBI source told the Blade Saturday evening that “it was highly likely-in fact probable, that individuals who are either members of the The Proud Boys or affiliated in some way are involved.”

Back in Northern Ontario OutLoud staff and the community continue to scramble to create a buffer and a safety zone for their kids CTV reported.

Photo Credit: OutLoud North Bay

North Bay Pride CEO Jocelyn Green said the organization is working with OutLoud to support the staff and youth in the city.

“I’m absolutely abhorred and disgusted,” Green said. “I can’t believe this kind of hate still exists. It’s like we’ve gone backwards in time.” Compton is calling on the community for its support during this troubling time.

“We need to come together as a community because this is something that not only happens worldwide,” he said. “It’s happening right here in our community.”

The local police service is actively investigating the tsunami of hate speech and ugly homophobic diatribes CTV’s Taschner told the Blade.

North Bay Police Service Inspector Jeff Warner told reporters in a briefing that police officials are “aware of the offensive and hateful comments OutLoud has received via social media” and that his department is “deploying resources.”

“We are going to watch the comments and if any of them cross the line into criminal activity we will act for sure.”

Warner was asked what that line would be.

“If comments or actions turn into what is chosen a hate crime for a designated group in the community, we take those investigations very seriously. We will investigate those thoroughly,” he said.

The most prominent slurs center on accusations that LGBTQ people and their allies are pedophiles, using the word “grooming,” which the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children defines as when “someone builds a relationship, trust, and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them.”

The term has been weaponized online, and it now appears almost constantly on many social media platforms. Data from the social media platform Reddit analyzed by Jeremy Blackburn, an assistant professor of computer science at Binghamton University in New York who studies online extremism, found about a 100 percent increase since the beginning of the year in discussion of “grooming” in conjunction with various LGBTQ slurs starting in early March and accelerating in mid-to-late March.

Inspector Warner was also asked by reporters how hard it would be to find the sender of these messages.

“When it is online activity, they are difficult to investigate. They are not impossible – we do have resources and we can liaison with other policing agencies that have the expertise in tracking down where some of these comments originate.”

Warner then voiced his displeasure over the youth centre being a target of hate.

“It is disappointing. OutLoud has been supporting the youth in the community since 2019. It is a safe place for the youth to go.  OutLoud is committed to the mental health and well-being of the youth in the community. It is just disappointing to see the hateful, hurtful comments directed towards the youth.”

Watch CTV Northern Ontario’s story here.

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Canadian intel agency: Anti-LGBTQ+ groups are ‘extreme threat’

CSIS warns Canadians & law enforcement that ‘anti-gender’ activists & organizations may strike LGBTQ+ organizations and events

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Canadian Security and Intelligence Service National Headquarters: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo Credit: CSIS/Government of Canada)

By Rob Salerno | OTTAWA, Canada – The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) is warning that anti-gender and anti-LGBTQ+ activists are posing a risk of “extreme violence” against the LGBTQ+ community in Canada, following a year of spreading organized anti-LGBTQ+ protests, anti-trans rhetoric coming from provincial governments, and an attack on a gender studies university class.

In a report obtained by the public broadcaster CBC, the CSIS Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC) says it is monitoring the potential for a violent attack on Pride festivals and nightclubs across the country. The ITAC is charged with forecasting the possibility of terrorism in Canada, based on analysis of actor intent, capability, and opportunity.

“Anti-LGBTQ+ narratives remain a common theme in violent rhetoric espoused by white nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Freedom Movement, and networks such as Diagolon and QAnon,” the report says, according to the CBC. “Trans and drag communities in Canada have been the target of several online threats and real-world intimidation tactics in recent months.”

The Blade has requested a copy of the report, but it has not been made public at this time. 

Last June, a knife-wielding man attacked a class on the philosophy of gender at the University of Waterloo, approximately 70 miles west of Toronto, injuring the professor and two students before he was subdued. He now faces 11 terrorism-related charges.

“CSIS assesses that the violent threat posed by the anti-gender movement is almost certain to continue over the coming year and that violent actors may be inspired by the University of Waterloo attack to carry out their own extreme violence against the LGBTQ+ community or against other targets they view as representing the gender ideology ‘agenda,’” CSIS spokesperson Eric Balsam says in an email.

Balsam says that CSIS believes the network of anti-LGBTQ+ and far-right communities in Canada may be a breeding ground for violent activities.

“While violent rhetoric itself does not equate or often lead to violence, the ecosystem of violent rhetoric within the anti-gender movement, compounded with other extreme worldviews, can lead to serious violence. CSIS assesses that exposure to groups and individuals espousing anti-gender extremist rhetoric could inspire and encourage serious violence against the LGBTQ+ community, or against those who are viewed as supporters of pro-gender ideology policies and events,” he says.

Last year, Pride Toronto executive director Sherwin Modeste told XtraMagazine that the festival was boosting its security and increasing emergency drills to prepare for the festival in the wake of rising anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and hate crimes.

According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, the number of police-reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation has increased in each of the last three years, from 265 incidents in 2019, to 491 in 2022, the most recent year for which statistics are available, a staggering 85% increase. The 2019 figure had been a record number when it was reported. 

Far-right groups in Canada coalesced during the COVID-19 pandemic around protests against vaccine and mask mandates, culminating in a siege of downtown Ottawa and a blockade of border crossings that lasted for nearly a month in February 2022. It is believed that as COVID receded as an animating issue, many of the networks involved transitioned to protesting LGBTQ+ rights and transgender rights in particular.

A small but organized group of anti-LGBTQ+ activists have organized sustained campaigns targeting school boards, libraries, drag performances, pride festivals, and provincial legislatures to oppose LGBTQ+ rights and sex education in schools for the last two years. The protests are generally outnumbered by counter-protesters who support LGBTQ+ rights, but there have been sporadic reports of violence and arrests at the protests.

Last fall, the far-right X account Libs of TikTok, whose operator Chaya Raichik has boasted that her anti-LGBTQ+ “shitposts” frequently inspire violence and bomb threats, turned her attention to a school in suburban Vancouver because a teacher who is nonbinary works there. 

While no violence emerged from the post, the parent who drew Raichik’s attention was given a warning by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to stop harassing school officials, but she has continued to post racist, homophobic, and transphobic statements to her X account. While Canada has long enjoyed relative peace on LGBTQ+ issues, starting last year, several conservative-led provincial governments began introducing policies to restrict the names and pronouns students can use at school in the name of “parents’ rights.”

Recently, the Alberta government went further, announcing that it would restrict gender care for minors, bar trans girls from sports, and require schools to obtain written permission from parents before sexual orientation or gender can be discussed in classrooms.

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Canadian police cleared in anti-LGBTQ+ tractor flip incident

British Columbia Highway Patrol officers were pursuing a tractor participating in an anti-LGBTQ protest on a highway when it flipped

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(Photo Credit: RCMP/British Columbia Highway Patrol)

By Rob Salerno | VANCOUVER, Canada – A civilian oversight body has cleared British Columbia Highway Patrol officers of wrongdoing in a highway chase that led a tractor carrying an anti-LGBT banner to flip over last fall.

The incident occurred on Nov 25, as police pursued a tractor that was participating in a protest against the province’s inclusive sex education curriculum called the “Stop SOGI-123 Road Rally,” a small convoy of vehicles driving from Chilliwack to Vancouver along Highway 15. 

The BC Highway Patrol attempted to get the tractor driver to stop near Surrey in suburban Vancouver, then used a PIT maneuver, where the pursuing car hits the rear quadrant of the target vehicle, causing it to lose traction and spin out. The tractor flips over, and the driver was ejected from the vehicle’s open roof and sustained injuries. He was arrested and taken to the hospital.

The dramatic incident was captured on video by eyewitnesses.

The Independent Investigations Office of BC, which conducts routine investigations into all police incidents that result in injury or death, issued its report on the incident late Friday. While the report has not been made public due to an ongoing court case related to the incident, a news release says that there was no evidence the officers involved did anything wrong.

“The Chief Civilian Director has reviewed the evidence – civilian witness statements, forensic scene analysis, video footage, medical records, and police information – and determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe any officer may have committed an offence,” the report says.

The tractor driver, who has been identified as Chilliwack farmer Bill Shoker, had released several videos on social media in advance of the rally in which he denounced the province’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity-123 (SOGI-123) curriculum, which is used in public schools to promote inclusion of 2SLGBTQIA+ students and families. 

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Protests against sexual orientation and gender identity material and sex education more generally in school curriculums have become a regular occurrence in Canada in recent years, as a network of extremist anti-vax and anti-mask protestors morphed gradually morphed into an anti-LGBTQ+ protest network. They routinely disrupt school board meetings, library events, and protest at provincial legislatures. The in-person protest groups are often quite small and outnumbered by counter-protestors who support LGBT inclusion. 

Nevertheless, they’ve managed to disrupt events and have scored some policy wins, with several provinces run by conservative governments launching policies restricting students’ pronoun and name use. This month, Alberta announced a new policy would be coming in the fall to restrict discussion of LGBT issues in classrooms, bar trans girls from playing in school sports, and restrict gender care for adolescents.

The BC protesters were trying to launch a campaign to force a recall election of the province’s Education Minister Rachna Singh. The campaign officially failed when organizers were unable to collect the required signatures by the Jan 29 deadline. The campaign had to collect signatures from 40% of the eligible voters in Singh’s district in Surrey (11,811 signatures total), but only reported collecting 3,264.

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Alberta, Canada to block gender care and forcibly out trans kids

Canadian queer activists who say the new policies will be the most restrictive on queer and trans youth in Canada

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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith responds to criticism following the announcement of new policies affecting trans youth. (Screenshot/YouTube CTV)

By Rob Salerno | ALBERTA, Canada – The leader of Canada’s province of Alberta announced a slate of new anti-LGBTQ+ policies in a video released on social media yesterday prompting outcry from queer activists who say the new policies will be the most restrictive on queer and trans youth in Canada.

In a seven-minute video uploaded to X, Premier Danielle Smith announced that “top and bottom” surgeries would be restricted to those aged 18 and older, while trans youth under age 16 would no longer be able to access hormone therapies. Genital surgeries are already not generally medically recommended or performed on minors in Canada.

Trans students under age 16 will need parental permission before using a name or pronoun different from their legal name in school, while students 16 and up will have their parents notified of any name and pronoun changes. 

The premier says the province will also work to restrict women’s and girls’ sports to biological females, while also encouraging new coed leagues that trans students would be allowed to play in.

Additionally, under the new policy, parents will need to be notified and given the right to opt their children out before any classroom discussion on sexuality and gender, while “third party materials” on the sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity will need to be vetted by the Ministry of Education before they can be used in class.

It’s unclear at this point how the new policies will be enacted or enforced, but Smith has said that she wants the policies to be in place by the fall. Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate, an office of the legislature, was not briefed on the policy before it was announced.

In her video, Smith also announces that the government will attempt to recruit doctors who can perform gender-confirming surgeries to Alberta for adult care – currently, those seeking gender surgeries must travel to Quebec for care, nearly 2000 miles away. Smith says that about 100 people receive gender-confirming surgeries annually, about a quarter of whom are aged 18-25.

Smith also announces that child protection laws will be strictly enforced to protect trans children from abusive parents. 

However, in her follow up press conference today, Smith seemed to be unaware of what gender care involves, erroneously suggesting that people who undergo gender-affirming care cannot have sex or reproduce.

The Canadian 2SLGBTQIA+ advocacy group Egale and the Canadian Civil Liberties Union quickly announced that it would be filing a legal action against the policy.

“This is a direct and unprecedented attack on 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians, and trans and gender diverse youth in particular. The draconian measures announced run directly counter to expert guidance and evidence, violate the constitutional rights of 2SLGBTQI+ people, and will lead to irreparable harm and suffering,” Egale says in a statement. “The Government of Alberta is playing politics with some of the most vulnerable members of our society: trans and gender diverse youth, attacking them for cheap political points. We will not stand for it.”

The policies were also quickly denounced by Women & Sport Canada and the Alberta Teacher’s Association, the Alberta New Democratic Party, and the mayor of Calgary.

Federal cabinet ministers were also quick to denounce the policy, but cautioned that until the policy is actually brought forward, there isn’t anything for the government to take action against. 

“As a parent, my heart breaks for young 2SLGBTQIA+ people in Alberta who are being targeted by @ABDanielleSmith’s harmful and misguided policy. To trans and gender diverse youth: please know that we – and so many Canadians – stand with you and will stand up for your rights,” Justice Minister Arif Virani wrote on X.

Trans activist Fae Johnstone, founder of the advocacy group Queer Momentum denounced the policy and called on allies and the federal government to do more to protect trans youth.

“Conservative premiers are bullying trans kids. This whole issue has cast aside the humanity of transgender young people. Kids deserve better than this. Trans young people deserve to grow up in safe and supportive environments,” Johnstone wrote on X

Alberta’s new policies around trans youth and sexual orientation in schools are the most restrictive to be proposed in Canada but follow a growing trend among conservative-run provinces.

The policy around parental notification and consent surrounding name and pronoun use mirrors similar policies introduced in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick last year. The governments of Ontario and Quebec also announced similar policies would be forthcoming last year, but have not announced them yet. 

When a judge blocked the Saskatchewan policy as likely unconstitutional, the Saskatchewan government passed a bill that allows the policy to override the Charter of Rights, using a constitutional procedure that has seen growing use by Canada’s right-wing provincial governments in recent years. Smith did not rule out using the “notwithstanding” clause to shield the policy from judicial review.

There’s little evidence that these policies are popular among the mainstream in Canada. Last year, Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government lost an election after campaigning on introducing a “parents’ rights” policy around trans students. New Brunswick will go to the polls later this year. 

In the northern Alberta town of Westlock, voters will weigh in on banning Pride flags on municipal property this month.

A hardcore base of anti-LGBT activists has grown in Canada in recent years, evolving out of the anti-vax and anti-lockdown movements, and it has been courted by conservative politicians. Smith welcomed these activists at the United Conservative Party of Alberta Convention last year, where they passed policy platforms calling for these policies.

Anti-trans activists also passed policy platforms at the federal Conservative Party convention last year calling for bans on trans people using women’s bathrooms and restricting gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Neither the federal Conservative Party nor its leader Pierre Poilievre have addressed the platform since it was passed. Smith has been explicitly courting the radical right for the last several years, recently appearing in public events across the province with disgraced former Fox News Host Tucker Carlson, disgraced transphobic former University of Toronto professor and current social media troll Jordan Peterson, and convicted fraudster and former owner of the right-wing National Post newspaper Conrad Black. (Black was pardoned by Donald Trump in 2019).

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith defends new gender policy amid criticism:

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Canadian town to hold referendum on banning the Pride flag

In the past, anti-LGBT politicians in Canada have objected to flying Pride flags by suggesting they set a precedent for allowing Nazi flags

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RF Staples School Thunder Alliance & Town of Westlock, Alberta, Canada Pride crosswalk dedication, June 28 2023. (Photo Credit: Town of Westlock, Alberta, Canada)

By Rob Salerno | WESTLOCK, Canada – The small town of Westlock, Alberta will hold a referendum on banning the display of Pride symbols and other flags on municipal property Feb 22, after anti-LGBT activists collected enough signatures to force the town of about 5000 people 50 miles north of Edmonton to hold a vote.

Anti-LGBT activists began agitating against Pride flags after the local high school’s gay-straight alliance asked the town council for permission to install a rainbow crosswalk in the town. The town council voted unanimously to allow the students to paint the crosswalk, over the objections of a handful of residents who attended council to speak against it.

The RF Staples School Thunder Alliance installed the crosswalk in June.

Referendums are relatively rare in Canada, but under Alberta law, municipalities are compelled to hold a referendum if at least 10 percent of residents sign a petition calling for one. Anti-LGBTQ+ activists collected 700 signatures by September.

At a town council meeting Nov 27, councilors voted to hold the referendum but spoke out strongly against the evident animus behind it.

“In my opinion, this is lipstick on bigotry,” Councilor Laura Morie said at the meeting.

The proposal would ban the display of any of “political, social, or religious movements or commercial entities,” from being displayed on municipal flagpoles or crosswalks, other than those relating to the national, provincial, or local government. 

The proposal has been written to be neutral on its face, but it is believed that the rainbow crosswalk is the only piece of municipal infrastructure that would be affected by the proposed ban. It would have to be removed if the referendum passes. 

The proposal could also impact other symbols – for example, the town would be forbidden from displaying flags related to Indigenous communities or the military, but this hasn’t been an issue for the town in the past.

Petition organizer Stephanie Bakker has been at pains to stress that her activism has been about forcing the government to be “neutral,” rather than specifically anti-LGBT, even though it was only the Pride crosswalk that motivated her to action. In a long blog post on her campaign group’s web site, she warns flag supporters that allowing the government to promote a group for equity reasons may be harmful down the road.

“Perhaps the government is choosing a group that you approve of to promote today. But what happens if a party you don’t like gets into office, and now they have the power of promotion and discrimination? Who will they decide is ‘worthy’ or ‘unworthy’?” Bakker writes. 

Bakker does not specify who or what other objectionable groups might be promoted by the municipal government down the road.

In the past, anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in Canada have objected to flying Pride flags by suggesting they set a precedent for allowing Nazi flags, a suggestion that has always been ludicrous.

If the referendum passes, Westlock would be the first city in Canada to remove a Pride crosswalk. 

Helen Kennedy, executive director of the Canadian LGBT advocacy group Egale says the Pride flag is an important symbol of solidarity and welcoming to members of the 2SLGBTQI community.

“When municipalities display Pride flags or paint crosswalks in rainbow colors, they signal that their cities and towns are committed to inclusivity, diversity, and the safety of all residents,” Kennedy says. “In times of rising hate against 2SLGBTQI people in Canada, the decision to prevent local governments from displaying visible symbols of solidarity with our communities is irresponsible and dangerous.”

Hate groups in Canada have stepped up actions against queer people recently, with small groups frequently targeting drag events and school board meetings across the country.

Last year, a Catholic school board in suburban Toronto banned the display of Pride flags in schools, but no local government in Canada has passed any similar ban.Earlier this month, Florida Republicans advanced a bill that would ban the display of Pride flags in schools and government property. It awaits votes in the state legislature.

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Court in Canada finds “groomer” slur not protected speech

Courts have been consistent that public interest is served by fighting homophobia as drag events get increasing ire from anti-LGBTQ activists

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Ontario Superior Court Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada (Photo Credit: Alison Schnarr/Government of Ontario-Courts)

By Rob Salerno | ONTARIO, Canada – A court in Ontario, Canada has ruled that a defamation case can go ahead against a man who publicly called a drag performer and a queer community organization “groomers,” deciding that there was no public interest served in protecting baseless allegations of sexual abuse against queer and trans people.

The case occurred in Dryden, Ontario, a city of 7,000 people about 1,000 miles northwest of Toronto in September 2022. After CBC News reported on threats being made to a drag story hour at the local library, a local blogger named Brian Webster posted accusations that the performers involved were “groomers” and insinuating that they intended to sexually abuse children on his Facebook Page “Real Thunder Bay Courthouse – Inside Edition.”

What followed were violent threats made by Webster’s 6,500 followers and a series of disturbing placards placed around town accusing the performers of being pedophiles. 

The Rainbow Alliance Dryden and drag king Jack Doff decided to fight back and launched a defamation suit against Webster. They’re each seeking $95,000 in general and punitive damages, as well as additional special damages.

Webster sought to block the suit by invoking Ontario’s anti-SLAPP law. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, and anti-SLAPP laws are meant to protect free speech and political participation by limiting defamation suits that arise from discussions over matters of public interest.

But in her December 14 decision, Ontario Superior Court Justice Nieckarz shot that down, ruling that baseless allegations that queer people are pedophiles or “groomers” are not matters of public interest that are protected by anti-SLAPP laws. That allows the defamation suit to go forward. Nieckarz also found that the plaintiffs’ case had “substantial merit” and would therefore be likely to succeed.

“I simply cannot find any public interest in protecting a harmful trope that associates 2SLGBTQI people with sexual predation against children. On the other hand, there is considerable public interest in allowing individuals who are the victims of such conduct to publicly defend their reputation in a court of law,” Nieckarz writes in her decision.

Separately, Webster is also facing a defamation case in Thunder Bay, Ontario, about 200 miles east, arising from similar comments he’s made about the queer and trans community there on the same Facebook page.

The Canadian 2SLGBTQI advocacy group Egale celebrated the court’s decision, after it had intervened on behalf of the plaintiffs.

“This is an important decision for 2SLGBTQI communities that comes at a time when we are facing unprecedented levels of hate, harassment, and violence fuelled by the spread of misinformation and disinformation,” Egale said in a statement released on its website. “Because false accusations of pedophilia have been weaponized against 2SLGBTQI people to deny members of our communities equal rights and opportunities for decades, the law must allow people being targeted by these homophobic and transphobic myths to pursue defamation claims.” 

The decision builds upon recent jurisprudence in Canada affirming the right of queer people to defend themselves against baseless allegations and homophobia. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Canada approved an anti-SLAPP application brought by a former British Columbia teachers’ union president who was being sued by a former school board trustee whom he had accused of making hateful, transphobic statements. 

The courts have been consistent that the public interest is served by fighting homophobia and transphobia.

But drag events have drawn increasing ire from anti-LGBT agitators in Canada over the past year, including threats of violence and intimidation. Canadian anti-LGBT activists are also increasingly coordinating their efforts nationally, teaming up with other far-right extremists and anti-vaxxers, and gaining the attention of Canada’s federal and provincial Conservative parties to bring their agenda into the mainstream.

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Libs of TikTok targets nonbinary teacher in British Columbia

Officers with the RCMP issued a warning to woman who had been harassing officials at her daughter’s school over a non-binary teacher

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Photo Credit: Pitt Meadows Secondary School, Pitt Meadows, BC, Canada

By Rob Salerno | Vancouver, Canada – Officers with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a warning to woman who had been harassing officials at her daughter’s school over a non-binary teacher. The woman’s complaint about the teacher had been picked up and propagated by the homophobic Chaya Raichik, the former New York City real estate agent behind the social media account Libs of TikTok, who then amplified harassment of school officials.

The woman, who goes by the Twitter handle @BlondeBigot11, claims her daughter was criticized by her art teacher at Pitt Meadows Secondary School in suburban Vancouver, Canada for misgendering them. 

The teacher, who the Blade has decided not to name, is a non-binary performing artist whom the woman claims had a public Instagram account where the teacher posted images that displayed their mastectomy scars. 

By her account, she had asked the school principal to discipline the teacher and require them to make their Instagram account private. When the school refused, she told her story to LibsOfTikTok, which posted her version of events, along with photos from the teacher’s Instagram account and links to the school and school district’s Twitter accounts. 

Libs Of TikTok frequently directs its followers to the social media accounts, contact information, and addresses of the LGBT people and allies that they demonize, which opponents say is a tacit encouragement to direct harassment and violence at them. For its part, Libs Of TikTok creator Chaya Riachik claims she condemns violence and threats, but has celebrated the fact that her posts frequently generate them.

In apparent response to the attention from LibsOfTikTok, Pitt Meadows Secondary School deactivated its Twitter account, the school district has made its account private, and the teacher has set their Instagram account to private.

@BlondeBigot11 claims that the RCMP then called her and told her that the school officials felt “unsafe” because of her actions, and that she could be arrested and charged with “uttering threats,” if she continued to speak out against the school and teacher.

In an email to the school principal, which she has posted to Twitter, @BlondeBigot11 says, “I’m not going to stop. You’re not scaring or intimidating me. If anything you’ve strengthened my resolve, and a lawyer has been contacted.”

In another tweet, @BlondeBigot11 acknowledges that no other parents have joined her in her concerns about the teacher. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the woman known only as “@BlondeBigot11” describes herself in her Twitter profile as “A little further to the right than the far right extremists” and fills her Twitter page with racist anti-Semitic, and transphobic memes, anti-vax conspiracy theories, and complaints about Pride flags and non-white children in public schools.  

Requests for comment from the RCMP went unanswered before press time. When contacted about this story, Pitt Meadows Secondary School directed the Blade to the school district, which did not respond to a voicemail before press time.  

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.


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Anti-LGBTQ protestor flips tractor in high-speed chase in Canada

Earlier this week, anti-SOGI protesters launched a recall campaign against BC Education Minister Rachna Singh

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An anti-LGBTQ+ protestor driving a tractor trailer on a highway in suburban Vancouver, dramatically flipped and rolled his tractor off the highway while engaging in a high speed chase with British Columbia Highway Patrol on Nov. 26, 2023. (Screenshot/YouTube CTV News)

By Rob Salerno | VANCOUVER, Canada – An anti-LGBTQ+ protestor driving a tractor trailer on a highway in suburban Vancouver, dramatically flipped and rolled his tractor off the highway while engaging in a high speed chase with British Columbia Highway Patrol on Saturday, November 25 that was caught on video.

The tractor driver, who has been identified as Chilliwack resident Bill Shoker, was participating in a “Stop SOGI-123 Road Rally” to from Chilliwack to Vancouver, about 60 miles west, to protest the province’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI-123) curriculum, which is used in public schools to promote inclusion of LGBTQ+ students and families. 

BC Highway Patrol say they attempted a traffic stop, but the tractor struck the police vehicle.

Video of the incident shows the tractor repeatedly coming into contact with a BC Highway Patrol vehicle on Highway 15 in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, before it flips over while attempting to use the exit to Highway 1. 

The Lower Mainland’s Integrated Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Service, which investigates collisions involving police, is investigating the incident.

When the tractor flipped, Shoker was thrown from the tractor’s sunroof. He was arrested by police and taken to hospital for his injuries.

Shoker’s wife Manjit told Global News that her husband was in awaiting surgery for his injuries and may have a broken backbone. Manjit says Shoker has participated in several anti-SOGI protests. 

Although the SOGI-123 curriculum is several years old, protests against it have increased in frequency and intensity in the past year among an extremist coalition that has grown out of anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown campaigns.  

Protests against sex education curriculums in schools have occurred across Canada regularly over the past few months, although they are usually outnumbered by counter-protesters who support LGBT inclusion.

Earlier this week, anti-SOGI protesters launched a recall campaign against BC Education Minister Rachna Singh. The recall campaign has until January 29 to collect signatures from 40% of the registered voters in her district for the recall election to go ahead. There has never been a successful recall campaign in British Columbia.

“SOGI-123 … [is] on the surface there to keep everyone inclusive and safe. But we believe it’s a Trojan Horse. Its real agenda is to indoctrinate straight children, to put ideas in their mind that they may not be male or female, they might be somewhere in the middle,” recall campaign spokesperson Amrit Birring told CBC News.

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Second wave of anti-LGBTQ protests sweeps Canada

Protests come as several Canadian provinces run by Conservatives have begun policies requiring schools to notify parents about LGBTQ kids

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Dueling protests in the Million March 4 Children over the issue of LGBTQ+ policy in schools held in cities across Canada. (Screenshot/YouTube Global News Canada)

By Rob Salerno | OTTAWA, Canada – Anti-LGBTQ protests took to the streets across Canada for the second time in five weeks on Oct 21, with demonstrators calling for an end to inclusion of sexual orientation or gender identity topics in classrooms.

Calling themselves the “1 Million March 4 Children” (1MM4C), the protesters were once again generally outnumbered by counter-protesters who support LGBTQ inclusion in schools. Still, the sheer breadth of the protests seem to indicate that the anti-LGBTQ movement is still able to mobilize hate.

The protests come as several Canadian provinces governed by Conservative parties have begun introducing policies requiring schools to notify parents if their children ask to use a different name or pronoun in schools. 

On Friday, the Saskatchewan legislature passed a bill that backs up its controversial student outing policy by asserting that it is shielded from court challenges based on Canada’s Charter of Rights. A court had previously issued an injunction against the policy pending a hearing on its constitutionality, but that case is now moot.

A protest against the anti-LGBTQ policy reportedly saw hundreds of people gather in the province’s largest city Saskatoon on Saturday, while protesters calling for even harsher anti-LGBTQ policies in schools hit the streets in the capital Regina and in Estevan. 

1MM4C claimed to be holding protests in 62 cities across the country, including big cities like Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary, as well as provincial capitals Winnipeg and Victoria, and numerous smaller cities, however, many of the planned protests were cancelled at the last minute, including a rally in the national capital Ottawa.

Counter-protests were reported at most of these demonstrations by national media. Pro-LGBT rallies were also held in several cities across Canada where 1MM4C either was not planning protests this weekend or had cancelled rallies at the last minute.

Trans author Gemma M. Hickey turned out to support queer youth in St. John’s, Newfoundland, but found that the 1MM4C protest had been cancelled. 

“Dropped by counter protest to support queer & trans youth. Other side cancelled due to weather. My community has weathered out many a storm. We’ll ride this one out, too! No wonder we have a 🌈 as our symbol,” they wrote on X.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network noted in a series of tweets that in addition to the smaller crowds of protestors compared to last month’s 1MM4C demonstration, this month’s protests seemed more disorganized and less equipped.

Groups formed to counter the 1MM4C protesters took a victory lap on social media after they outnumbered the anti-LGBTQ crowds in most cities.

“Today, WE WON. Well done to everyone who showed up today at City Hall,” wrote the group Hamilton Queers Against Hate on X. “Let’s continue to show up in support of children’s rights and trans communities.”

The rallies did have at least one effect – a library in suburban Vancouver postponed a Drag Queen Story Hour Saturday amid fears that 1MM4C protests could make it unsafe. In contrast to the 1MM4C rallies that were held in 80 cities across Canada last month, this month’s rallies did not generate reports of violence or arrests.

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Alberta Canadian school board trustee compares LGBTQ to Nazis

LaGrange said that she consulted the Holy Spirit before she posted the meme, and the Spirit said, “Go for it”

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Photo Credit: Red Deer Catholic Schools, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

By Rob Salerno | RED DEER, Alberta, Canada – A school board trustee in Alberta, Canada claims that the “Holy Spirit” told her it was ok to post a meme on her social media account that compared LGBT people to Nazis, which ultimately led to her being censured by the Red Deer Catholic School Board. 

Monique LaGrange says she will challenge the Board’s action to censure her in court.

LaGrange, who was elected to the Board in 2021, posted a meme in August that depicted a historical photo of a group of children waving Nazi flags above another photo of children waving the LGBT Pride flag, with the caption “Brainwashing is brainwashing.” 

Monique LaGrange/Facebook

In a detailed, fifteen-page document summarizing the Board’s decision to censure her, which LaGrange requested to be made public, the Board says LaGrange told them she consulted the Holy Spirit before she posted the meme, and the Spirit said, “Go for it.”

Reactions to the meme were swift, with the Alberta Teachers Association calling on LaGrange to apologize, and the Central Alberta Pride Society calling on her to resign or be removed. LaGrange deleted it sometime later, but she maintains that she had the right to post the meme, which she says was not disparaging to any person and did not actually compare queer people to Nazis. 

According to the summary, LaGrange insists that the meme is “about the agenda of the United Nations and Planned Parenthood which is an attempt to sabotage our youths’ identities and destinies and hijacks the LGBTQ [sic] community’s original mandate.”

The meme post drew criticism from several community members, as well as from the Simon Weisenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, although four parents wrote to the board in support of LaGrange. 

The Red Deer Catholic Board initially voted to ask Alberta’s Minister of Education to remove her, but the Minister said that decision was up to the Board. After the Board held a disciplinary hearing, it decided to censure LaGrange for violating the Board’s Code of Conduct, barring her from attending committee meetings until she issues a sincere written apology and attended sensitivity training.

After the Board voted to censure LaGrange, the Central Alberta Pride Society released a statement saying the decision doesn’t go far enough, noting that LaGrange also participated in the “1 Million March 4 Kids” demonstrations in Red Deer that protested against LGBT inclusion in schools.

“We also feel that the resolution requests are not adequate enough. We still want her removed, whether voluntarily or involuntarily,” CAPS’ statement says. “Her recent appearance and speech during the 1 Million March speaks volumes to the fact no level of courses or training will change her beliefs towards the 2SLGBTQ+ community.”

Several of Canada’s provinces offer Catholic public schools, as required by the Canadian Constitution. Catholic schools are meant to offer Catholic-focused education but are generally held to the same legal standards as nondenominational schools with regard to curriculum, conduct, and nondiscrimination. 

Still, Canadian Catholic school boards have a long history of conflict when it comes to including 2SLGBTQIA+ students. 

In 2002, Oshawa Catholic high school student Marc Hall was thrust into the international spotlight when his school barred him from bringing his boyfriend to prom. That story inspired a documentary, the TV movie Prom Queen, and a musical called The Louder We Get. 

In the 2010s, Catholic schools often refused to allow students to form gay-straight alliances, even when provinces passed laws requiring them to do so. Catholic school board members compared GSAs to Nazi youth groups then, too. More recently, the York Catholic District School Board in suburban Toronto voted to bar flying the Pride flag this May, prompting a student walkout.

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Saskatchewan Premier vows to bypass Canadian Charter of Rights

After court blocks Canadian province’s rule requiring schools to out trans kids, Moe vows to by-pass Canada’s Charter of Rights

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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe speaking at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in Saskatoon on September 20, 2023. (Photo Credit: Office of the Saskatchewan Premier/Facebook)

By Rob Salerno | REGINA, Saskatchewan, Canada – Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has announced he plans to override Canada’s Charter of Rights to pass a law requiring students to get parental consent before using a name or pronoun other than the ones indicated by their birth certificate in schools, after a judge in Regina issued an injunction blocking the rule from coming into effect.

The policy was announced this summer, as a wave of Canadian provinces governed by Conservatives enacted similar rules across the country. The rules were immediately denounced by LGBT activists, teachers’ associations, and school boards, who said the rules violated trans kids’ privacy rights and right to gender expression, as well as being impractical to enforce.

In his decision Thursday, Judge Michael Megaw sided with University of Regina Pride, which filed a lawsuit seeking to have the rule struck down. Megaw’s decision doesn’t kill the rule, but blocks schools and the province from enforcing it while the constitutional challenge goes forward.

“The protection of these youth surpasses that interest expressed by the government, pending a full and complete hearing into the constitutionality of this policy,” Megaw wrote in his decision. “I find this to be one of those clear cases where injunctive relief is necessary to attempt to prevent the irreparable harm referred to pending a full hearing of this matter on its merits.”

The province had previously told the court that it drafted the policy in nine days and did not consult with stakeholders before enacting it. It also told the court that the government had received just 18 letters over the summer asking the government to enact the “parental consent” policy.

In response, Moe announced he would recall the provincial legislature on Oct 10 to pass a law backing up the rule by using the Canadian Constitution’s “notwithstanding clause,” which allows the federal and provincial governments to pass laws that violate the constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A law invoking the clause can only be in effect for five years but can be renewed and cannot be challenged under the Charter of Rights in that time. 

The notwithstanding clause was included when the Canadian Charter of Rights was enacted in 1982 specifically because certain provinces were afraid that gays and lesbians would use the Charter to demand equal rights. The Liberal government at the time believed that use of the clause would be so unpopular that no government would dare try it. For most of its history, that’s been true, but there has been a growing trend of Conservative provincial governments across Canada invoking the clause to override Charter rights since 2018.

Moe’s threat to invoke the clause was immediately denounced by federal Justice Minister Arif Verani.

“We note that the government is choosing to do this despite today’s injunction which should have given them pause. A judge agreed that what the government is doing may cause irreparable harm to some of its most vulnerable young people. Just as important, they are acting before a court has had the opportunity to review their proposed policy for its constitutionality. Violating individual rights should not be a decision taken lightly,” Virani wrote in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter. 

Trans activist Fae Johnstone, accuses Moe of using trans kids to push a wider anti-rights agenda.

“Let me be crystal clear: Premier Moe is weaponizing the public’s lack of familiarity with trans people to set a terrifying precedent: Overruling the fundamental human rights protections laid out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” she wrote on X

Moe claims that the pronouns policy is popular among parents in Saskatchewan. He won’t be up for election until fall 2024. 

“Our government is extremely dismayed by the judicial overreach of the court blocking implementation of the Parental Inclusion and Consent policy – a policy which has the strong support of a majority of Saskatchewan residents, in particular, Saskatchewan parents. The default position should never be to keep a child’s information from their parents,” Moe said in a statement.

However, in neighboring Manitoba, the incumbent Conservative government which has pledged to introduce a similar “parental consent” policy is up for reelection on Tuesday and is currently trailing in the polls behind the New Democratic Party, which has pledged to support queer and trans youth. 

New Brunswick, where the current wave of “parental consent” policies began, may also go to the polls this fall if Premier Blaine Higgs calls a snap election. His Conservative Party has been trailing narrowly in the polls behind the New Brunswick Liberals.

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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