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Eight jailed across Canada in anti-LGBTQ rallies against sex ed

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemns bigotry as counterprotests outnumber anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrators in most cities



Protests sparked across Canada over gender policies in schools Wednesday, September 20, 2023. (Screenshot/YouTube CBC)

By Rob Salerno | OTTAWA, Canada -A highly coordinated series of anti-LGBT protests rocked more than 80 cities across Canada Wednesday, in a significant escalation of tactics by Canada’s anti-LGBTQ extremists.

The coordinated protests dubbed “1 Million March 4 Children” are demanding an end to discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in Canadian classrooms. They come as several Canadian provinces have enacted policies that require students to have parental permission to change their preferred name or pronoun used in schools, and shortly after the federal Conservative Party adopted a series of anti-trans policies at its national convention.

According to its website, 1 Million March 4 Children is calling for “the elimination of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.” The website also lists among its supporters numerous groups that were opposed to masking policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-vaccine groups, groups that promote conspiracy theories, and groups that support the truck convoys that laid siege to Ottawa and several US border crossings last year.

Protests happened from coast to coast, in big cities, suburbs, and small towns, but in most cases, they were met with coordinated counter-protests in support of LGBT rights who greatly outnumbered the protesters. 

CBC reported that counter-protesters numbered roughly double the anti-LGBT protesters in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  

Inclusive sex education has long been part of school curriculums in most provinces in Canada and has generally enjoyed support from all major political parties.

While the protests where mostly peaceful, at least four anti-LGBT protesters were arrested after getting into altercations with counter-protestors in British Columbia, and police advised that the protest in front of the provincial legislature had become “unsafe.”

Police in Nanaimo, BC tackled and arrested one man who attempted to flee after allegedly getting into a physical altercation at City Hall. Two protestors were also arrested in Victoria, BC as they demonstrated in front of the provincial legislature, and another protester was arrested in Vancouver, BC. Police in both cities did not provide additional information.

Ottawa police also arrested two protesters for allegedly inciting hatred and another for causing a disturbance in at the protest in front of Parliament.

And Toronto police arrested 47-year-old protester Julia Stevenson for allegedly bringing a weapon to the demonstration outside the provincial legislature. Police did not give further details about what kind of weapon she is alleged to have been carrying.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was at the UN General Assembly in New York, condemned the anti-LGBT protests in a tweet on X, formerly Twitter.

“Let me make one thing very clear: Transphobia, homophobia, and biphobia have no place in this country. We strongly condemn this hate and its manifestations, and we stand united in support of 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians across the country – you are valid and you are valued,” he wrote.

Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre did not put out any statement on the protests, nor did deputy leader Melissa Lantsman, who is openly lesbian and has previously spoken out on LGBT issues on behalf of the party. 

The leader of the left-leaning New Democratic Party Jagmeet Singh joined the counter-protestors who demonstrated in Ottawa and marched toward Parliament Hill.

“We know that there’s a lot of folks that don’t feel safe because of the rise in hate and division that’s targeting vulnerable people,” Singh told CTV. “But then you see a lot of people coming together, and it shows the strength of solidarity, of us supporting each other, of having each other’s back.”

Alberta Teachers’ Association President Jason Schilling says the protesters are part of a North America-wide movement fomenting hatred against queer people using misinformation and lies.

“Using ‘parental consent’ as camouflage, this rally was part of a coordinated strike across North America to promote misinformation, intolerance and hate toward the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, as well as toward teachers who work to protect the safety and well-being of all students,” Schilling said in a statement.

In many cities, the anti-LGBT protests were officially condemned by mayors and school boards.

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow, who has publicly supported LGBT rights since the 1980s, issued a strong statement condemning the protests

“We stand against all forms of discrimination, hatred and bigotry, and for the safety and well-being of all young people. Some wish to target our schools and libraries to spread hate. We know these must be spaces that welcome everyone, especially students,” Chow wrote.

The city of Whitehorse, Yukon issued a statement condemning bigotry in advance of the protests.

“While the City supports people’s right to organize and protest, we stand by our 2SLGBTQIA+ community members and their right to live their true selves safely and free of harassment and hate. The promotion of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ ideas has no place in our community and messages that target fellow community members will not be tolerated,” the statement says.

However, the Premier of New Brunswick Blaine Higgs, who was the first to introduce a “parental consent” policy for trans students, joined the protesters in front of the provincial legislature in Fredericton. 

“I think our parents should become knowledgeable about what their kids are being taught and what is important for them to learn in schools and what’s important for parents to make decisions on with kids that are under 16 years old,” Higgs told reporters.

BC Conservative Party leader went further in a statement on the protests. While he says he doesn’t “officially” support the protests, if his party wins next year’s election, he promised to cancel the province’s sex ed curriculum and implied he would ban trans girls from sports.

Protests sparked across Canada over gender policies in schools:


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



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



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.  


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



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.


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



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.


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”



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.


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



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.


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

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Canada’s conservatives take hard turn against trans people

Federal Conservatives adopt policies that would ban trans kids from medical treatment, block trans women from women’s spaces



Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre speaking to delegates to the federal Conservative Party’s policy convention in Quebec City September 8-10. (Photo Credit: Conservative Party of Canada * Parti conservateur du Canada)

By Rob Salerno | QUEBEC CITY, Canada – Canada’s federal and provincial conservative parties are suddenly joining American-style culture wars centered on trans issues, announcing new policies to crack down on access to medical care and women-only spaces, and restricting trans children from using chosen names and pronouns in schools.

At the federal Conservative Party’s policy convention in Quebec City this weekend, 69 percent of delegates voted to bar trans children from receiving gender-affirming care, while 87 percent of delegates voted to define “woman” as a “female person” and to demand that transwomen be barred from women-only spaces.

The policy vote – which was initiated by the party’s grassroots – will only become a part of the Conservative Party’s official platform if current leader Pierre Poilievre decides to include it. The party has been riding high in the polls for several months as Canadians deal with a growing cost-of-living crisis, but a federal election isn’t scheduled for two more years.

While the federal Conservatives had recently tried to focus on economic issues rather than culture-war issues, the convention vote is emblematic of how social conservatives have come to dominate the party’s agenda. 

The vote also comes as a wave of anti-trans and anti-drag protests has appeared across Canada. 

The latest salvo in the culture war battles against trans Canadians was ignited this spring, when the deeply unpopular Conservative premier of New Brunswick announced a new policy that would bar students from changing the name or pronoun they use at school without written consent from their parents. Two cabinet ministers resigned in protest over the new rule, which was immediately criticized by LGBT activists and teachers unions, who pointed out that it would be impractical to enforce and would violate trans students’ human rights. Nevertheless, the policy came into effect in September, although it has faced a court challenge by the Canadian Civil Liberties Union.

Shortly after, the conservative-affiliated government of Saskatchewan introduced a similar rule that has also been subject to a court challenge. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has announced he intends to bolster the regulation with a “parental rights” law this fall as it prepares for an election next year. An anti-LGBTQ Christian organization called Action4Canada has claimed credit for lobbying the government to introduce the school reforms. 

That was followed by the Conservative government of Ontario led by Premier Doug Ford announcing that it was developing a similar policy. Ford’s government has been mired in a series of scandals recently, including most prominently a land reclassification that saw a handful of party donors receive billions of dollars in land value uplift while degrading environmentally sensitive land around Toronto. 

Ford and his ministers have repeatedly described the new policy as protecting parents’ rights in speeches and campaign-style events, although a provincial election isn’t scheduled for another two years.

“Parents rights. They need to be… informed when they [students] make a decision. It’s not up to teachers and school boards to indoctrinate our kids. I can’t even figure out what school boards do anymore,” Ford said at an event in Kitchener, Ontario last week. 

Many activists have pointed out that Ford appears to be attempting to use the new policy to shift attention from the corruption scandal that has already led to the resignation of one cabinet minister.

“Shame on Premier Ford. Schools are not indoctrinating students. This “parental rights” rhetoric is just a good slogan hiding an anti-trans and social conservative agenda. And – right now – it’s a desperate distraction from his scandal-plagued track record,” tweeted Fae Johnstone, a trans activist and President of the advocacy group Queer Momentum. 

Five of Canada’s other seven provinces are currently governed by conservative-leaning parties, though none of the others have announced plans to copy the student name and pronoun policy yet. 

Although Canada’s Conservative Party and its provincial cousins have a long history of pursuing policies that have harmed LGBT communities, the sudden wave of anti-trans policies has come of something of a surprise, after what appeared to be several years of détente on culture wars.

In 2021, the federal Conservative Party allowed Parliament to pass a bill banning conversion therapy by unanimous consent and in 2017, dozens of Conservative MPs joined the government in passing a bill that banned anti-trans discrimination and hate speech. Saskatchewan’s conservative government banned discrimination against trans people in 2014, and Conservative parties also gave unanimous consent to provincial conversion therapy bans in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Yukon in the last decade.

In the last federal election in 2021, the Conservative Party fielded its first ever openly trans candidate, Hannah Hodson, who ran in the district of Victoria, British Columbia, placing third with 13 percent of the vote. Though Hodson served for years as a staffer for conservative politicians, she announced this year that she was leaving the party due its turn to anti-trans policies. 

“To all the [Conservative Party of Canada] people who have told me they love me, support me, and would fight for me, and who are now telling me to calm down and just go along with this. Or worse, telling me to stay quiet. I see you and I will not forget,” Hodson wrote on X, formerly Twitter, in response to the convention vote on anti-trans policies. 

While the federal government doesn’t generally control health services, Health Canada could regulate the use of medications and treatments for trans children. The federal government also doesn’t generally have the ability to regulate access to women’s spaces in schools or businesses, but does control prisons, airports, and federal government offices. 

Nevertheless, trans activists say that if the proposed policies are enacted by a future federal Conservative government, they would greatly harm trans people. 

“I would like everyone to recall, quite simply, that trans people are generally poor, more likely to be homeless, and experience a whole lot of hate for being ourselves. This is the community that the Conservative Party of Canada is picking on. Because they can,” says Johnstone. 

The new provincial policies around trans kids mirror legislation proposed or passed in several US states that requires schools to out students to their parents if they appear to be LGBT. 

It’s somewhat whiplash-inducing to see Conservative legislators who just a few years ago supported banning conversion therapy now call for parental consent over gender identity. Under the federal and provincial laws that Conservatives previously supported, it would be illegal for parents to try to change their child’s gender identity or expression by forcing them to undergo conversion therapy. But under the education policies enacted by Conservative provincial governments, parents would essentially hold a veto over their children’s gender expression. 

Children and youth advocates, LGBTQ activists, as well as teachers unions have pointed out that the new rules violate the rights of trans students to a safe learning environment. The rules also put educators in an impossible position of policing the gender identities of their students.

“While we believe that the ideal situation would include parents and guardians in the conversations and decision making, we support current school board policy in Ontario that centers the students in the decision making and honours their right to self-identify, even when parental consent is not given, to support an equitable and inclusive learning environment,” wrote the Ontario Principals’ Council in a statement on the proposed rule

“Students who do not have parental, family and community support that respects and validates them face higher risks of self-harm, emotional distress, isolation, deteriorating mental health and increased bullying. Gender-affirming practices such as honouring preferred names and pronouns help to reduce those risks and contribute to greater inclusion, belonging and success at school,” the statement says.

Watch Pierre Poilievre’s full speech at the Conservative policy convention in Quebec City:


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

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Canada warns its LGBTQ+ citizens about traveling to the U.S.

Outside Canada, laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression can be very different from those in Canada



Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland (Center wearing white sweater) at Toronto Pride 2023. (Photo Credit: Government of Canada)

MONCTON, New Brunswick, Canada – Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that Global Affairs Canada has updated its travel advisory for the United States for LGBTQ+ Canadians.

The new advisory reads, “Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Check relevant state and local laws,” and directs people to a web page that CBC reported providing broad information on how members of the community could be targeted while travelling to foreign countries.

That advice tells travelers to beware of laws that criminalize same-sex activities and relationships, or target people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

That advice also warns travelers that laws to curb vagrancy and public nuisance incidents could also be used to target them in an effort “to criminalize 2SLGBTQI+ people.”

During the press briefing Freeland said she supported the decision to update the travel advice but would not comment on whether U.S. President Joe Biden was informed before the update was made.

“Every Canadian government, very much including our government, needs to put at the center of everything we do the interests and the safety of every single Canadian, and of every single group of Canadians,” she said. “That’s what we’re doing now. That’s what we’re always going to do.”

Freeland also told reporters that as a former foreign affairs minister, she’s confident that travel advisories appearing on the Global Affairs Canada website are “done very professionally.”

“We have professionals in the government whose job is to look carefully around the world and to monitor whether there are particular dangers to particular groups of Canadians. That’s their job and it’s the right thing to do,” the Deputy Prime Minister added.

In a media statement released by Global Affairs Canada, the department said:

“Since the beginning of 2023, certain states in the U.S. have passed laws banning drag shows and restricting the transgender community from access to gender affirming care and from participation in sporting events.

“The information is provided to enable travelers to make their own informed decisions regarding destinations. Outside Canada, laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics can be very different from those in Canada.”

The ACLU is tracking 495 anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S. for the 2023 legislative year in over half of the United States, a majority that would impact LGBTQ+ Canadian travelers.

Accurate IDs

These bills attempt to limit the ability to update gender information on IDs and records, such as birth certificates and driver’s licenses. This puts transgender people at risk of losing jobs, facing harassment, and other harms. Trans, intersex, and nonbinary people need IDs that accurately reflect who they are to travel, apply for jobs, and enter public establishments without risk of harassment or harm.

Civil Rights

These bills attempt to undermine and weaken nondiscrimination laws by allowing employers, businesses, and even hospitals to turn away LGBTQ people or refuse them equal treatment.

Free Speech & Expression

Despite the safeguards of the First Amendment’s right to free expression, politicians are fighting to restrict how and when LGBTQ people can be themselves, limiting access to books about them and trying to ban or censor performances like drag shows.


These bills target access to medically-necessary health care, like Medicaid, for transgender people. Many of these bills ban affirming care for trans youth, and can create criminal penalties for providing this care. These bills exempt identical treatments offered to cisgender youth or are forced onto intersex youth. Other bills block funding to medical centers that offer gender-affirming care, or block insurance coverage of health care for transgender people.

Public Accommodations

Public accommodations bills seek to prohibit transgender people from using facilities like public bathrooms and locker rooms. Everyone should have access to these spaces, no matter their gender identity or gender expression. If you can’t use the restroom, you can’t fully participate in work, school, and public life.

Schools & Education

State lawmakers are trying to prevent trans students from participating in school activities like sports, force teachers to out students, and censor any in-school discussions of LGBTQ people and issues. Instead of limiting resources, education, and opportunities, our schools should protect and support all students to learn and thrive.

Other Anti-LGBTQ Bills

These bills don’t quite fit in any of the other categories, but nonetheless target the rights of LGBTQ people. Examples include bans on marriage and bills preempting local nondiscrimination protections.

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Canadian gay couple wins suit against Italian far-right party 

The Fratelli d’Italia used the couple’s viral image of holding their newborn son in a campaign against LGBT rights



Frank Nelson and BJ Barone with their son Milo in a recent photo. (Courtesy of Frank Nelson and BJ Barone)

By Rob Salerno | TORONTO, Canada -A Canadian gay couple who’s viral photo with their newborn son was used in an anti-LGBT-rights campaign by a far-right party has been awarded 20,000 euros ($21,600 USD) in compensation for unauthorized use of their image. 

Frank Nelson and BJ Barone welcomed their son Milo into the world on June 27, 2014. A picture snapped by Canadian photographer Lindsay Foster moments after his birth of the couple holding Milo went viral nearly immediately, eventually generating headlines around the world. 

But two years later, the photo was used without their permission in a political campaign against gay marriage and surrogacy by the far-right Fratelli d’Italia party in Italy.  

Photo courtesy of Frank Nelson and BJ Barone

“BJ’s family in Italy said our picture is everywhere there,” Nelson says. “They were using our photo and saying this baby will never know his mother. Obviously, we never thought we could do anything about it. But we wrote a children’s story to celebrate the photo and tell our own story.” 

Over time, the case became more pressing when the Fratelli d’Italia were swept from obscurity into leading the Italian government in 2022. Since then, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has led a campaign to clamp down on same-sex parents, with the government ordering non-biological parents removed from the birth certificates of the few children who’ve been registered with same-sex parents in the country.  

The couple were approached by a legal firm in Italy who encouraged them to sue the party over the use of their image. The couple agreed, but soon found out the legal process in Italy would drag out over years. 

“We had sort of given up hope. It had been seven years. To hear this news during pride month, we felt like this was meant to me,” Nelson says. 

The Italian government is also cracking down on surrogacy generally. It’s already banned in the country, but many couples, including straight couples, simply go overseas to find surrogates and then bring their children home. The government is on the cusp of passing a law that would make going abroad to conceive a child through a surrogate illegal. 

“I understand a number of European countries are using that as a model. So, things are scary,” Nelson says. 

Nelson and Barone were notified two months ago that they won their case and were awarded 10,000 euros ($10,800 USD) each. They say they’ve put the award into their son’s college fund. 

Nelson and Barone have also continued to advocate for and assist gay men with access to surrogacy over the past decade. Together, they run the website where they share their story, and they’ve self-published the book Milo’s Adventures. Nelson also sits on the board of Men Having Babies, which assists gay men with the surrogacy process.  

Milo recently turned nine years old, and his parents say he’s a happy and healthy boy. 

“I was just saying to Frank today, our little baby is growing up. He’s no longer this tiny little person. He’s becoming his own independent person. He’s very opinionated and stubborn,” Barone says. “He was born during June. He walks in Pride he thinks the celebrations are for his birthday.” 


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

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Hate motivated stabbing attack left 3 injured at Ontario university

Hundreds rally against hate after what Waterloo police say was hate-motivated attack related to gender expression and gender identity



Chief Mark Crowell of the Waterloo Regional Police Service addresses reporters. (Screenshot/YouTube CTV)

By Rob Salerno | WATERLOO, Ontario, Canada – A 24-year-old man has been arrested and charged after he allegedly stabbed three people in a philosophy class at the University of Waterloo on Wednesday afternoon, in what police are calling a hate-motivated attack based on gender expression and identity in the college town approximately 70 miles west of Toronto, Canada.

Geovanny Villalba-Aleman allegedly entered a 40-person Philosophy class, asked the professor about the subject of the class, and then attacked her with two large knives. Two students, a 19-year old man and a 20-year old woman, were also injured when they tried to intervene. All were taken to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The class, “Philosophy 202: Gender Issues” is described in the University of Waterloo course calendar as a “Philosophical analysis of issues relating to sex/gender.” It says students will explore questions like: “What, if anything, is the difference between sex and gender? How much of a role do facts about biology play in our ideas about sex and gender? How many sexes are there? What ethical issues arise for us in virtue of our gender?”

Villalba-Aleman, an international student from Ecuador who recently graduate from the university, has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault with a weapon, two counts of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and mischief under $5,000. He remains in police custody.

Friends of Villalba-Aleman say he struggled to make friends and rarely spoke up except to talk about how much he disliked LGBTQ people and Pride events.

Waterloo Regional Police Chief Mark Crowell told a press conference that investigators are treating the attack as a “planned and targeted attack motivated by hate related to gender and expression gender identity.”

“It is both sad and disturbing that this attack has occured during pride month,” he says. “We hope that this attack does not diminish from these celebrations, but instead encourages us all to come together to continue to celebrate and continue to inspire love over hate.”

Hundreds attended a rally against hate Thursday afternoon on the university quad to attempt to heal the trauma of the attack. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the attack on Twitter, calling it “horrifying and unacceptable.”

“The fact that the stabbings at the University of Waterloo were hate-motivated is absolutely despicable. I strongly condemn this vile act. It is another reminder that we can never let misogynistic, anti-2SLGBTQI+ rhetoric escalate – because these words have real-life consequences,” Trudeau says.

The attack comes amid an alarming rise in threatening and intimidating protests against the queer and trans communities in Canada, but police believe the attacker was working alone. 

Statistics Canada has reported a spike in hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation, with 423 hate crimes recorded in 2021, up from a previous peak of 265 in 2019.

Canada added protections for “gender identity or expression” to its hate crime laws in 2017. 

While attacks on schools are relatively rare in Canada, one of the deadliest mass murders in Canadian history took place at the École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989, when 14 women were murdered in an engineering class, claiming that he was “fighting feminism.” The attack is commemorated annually in Canada as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.


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

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Hate groups escalating tactics against LGBTQ+ people in Canada

While there has been little actual violence, multiple venues have received threats of violence- protestors regularly spout homophobic vitriol



By Rob Salerno | TORONTO – Disrupting school board meetings. Terrorizing librarians. Sending threatening messages from an activist’s father’s palliative care ward. Canada’s anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups are taking alarming steps to harass and intimidate LGBTQ+ people and their allies- and they’re starting to get their way.

While Canada has long had a reputation for relative safety and tolerance for queer people, a vocal and virulently anti-LGBTQ+ minority has long persisted and protested against incremental gains made by the community. 

This hardcore anti-LGBTQ+ element has recently taken on a Christian nationalist and fascist tone inspired by movements in the United States and galvanized by domestic anti-vaccine protests that culminated in the truck convoy that blockaded Ottawa and several border crossings for three weeks in February 2022. 

But where past anti-LGBTQ+ activists mostly seemed content to fight their battles at the ballot box, militant homophobes are now taking their fights into the streets, intentionally implying the threat of violence.

The most recent round of moral panic seemed to begin with protests against Drag Queen Story Hour events held at local libraries, community centers and restaurants, much as they have in the United States. Drag events have faced protests from coast to coast, in rural towns, suburbs, and big cities. 

Since last summer, there have been reports of public protests and threats against drag readings in Nelson, Coquitlam, Kelowna, Richmond, Victoria, Vancouver, and North Vancouver, in British Columbia; Taber, Lethbridge, Calgary, and Edmonton, in Alberta; Saskatoon and North Battleford in Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Woodstock, Peterborough, Parkhill, Pembroke, Orillia, Whitby, Scugog, Sault St. Marie, Dryden, Sarnia, Hamilton, Guelph, London, and Toronto, in Ontario; Montreal, Sainte-Catherine, and Dorval in Quebec; Moncton and St. John, New Brunswick; Georgetown, Prince Edward Island; Kentville and Sydney in Nova Scotia; and St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Homophobes are also making a push to target school boards across the country, using familiar accusations that school libraries and curricula inappropriately include topics related to sexuality and gender.

They’ve also targeted school board meetings and schools in Mission, Chilliwack, and Surrey, BC; Winnipeg and Brandon in Manitoba; and Ottawa, Orillia, Renfrew, York, Durham, Hamilton and Windsor, Ontario; Charlottetown, PEI; and St. John’s Newfoundland.

“Within the last three months it has taken off to the point where there are so many happening that we’re not able to be on top of it the way we would like to be,” says Hazel Woodrow, an education facilitator at the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. “Nobody’s really safe anywhere. In big cities, it’s seen as blowback against metropolitanism. In a small town, it’s like they staking their claim against big cities.” 

“The frequency of it is pointing to an escalating pattern of behavior,” she says. “The rhetoric of, that person is a child molester, is a threat to children, that language is more inflammatory because it calls to action. It doesn’t just rationalize violence but demands it. It almost seems like these protests are speaking to the rest of us.”

While there has been little actual violence, multiple venues have received threats of violence, and protestors regularly spout homophobic vitriol and slanderous “groomer” accusations baselessly implying that queer people are involved in pedophilia. One man has been arrested multiple times for harassing children and parents at a drag event in Calgary.  

A man who organized several protests against drag events across Southwestern Ontario, Bubba Pollock, was arrested last week after he posted a photo on a counter-protestor’s Facebook page of himself standing next to her dying father’s bed in the palliative care ward of a Windsor hospital. He’s been charged with criminal harassment. 

The protests and threats have forced venues and performers to take unprecedented steps to ensure safety. Some are bringing in police for security – a rarity in Canadian libraries and school boards. Community members are also staging counter-protests and blockades to drown out the relatively small groups of anti-LGBTQ+ protesters. 

Calgary has also passed new by-laws to ban protests within 100 meters of the entrance to a library or a recreation center, and to more strongly penalize hate-based street harassment in response to an alarming string of more than a dozen anti-drag protests in that city.

Social conservatives have rarely had success in Canada in the last several decades. Even while Canada’s Conservative parties have openly courted their votes, they’re rarely delivered the anti-LGBTQ+ policies that homophobes have demanded once in power. Canada’s electoral system tends to discourage extreme or fringe groups and reward parties that appeal to moderate voters.

But the new generation of social conservatives – although still representing a tiny minority of Canadians – are savvier about organizing and using intimidation tactics and social media to achieve their goals. 

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network has reported on how known neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and far-right groups have been openly involved in the protests, while CBC News has reported that anti-vaccine and trucker convoy groups have pivoted to protesting against LGBTQ+ issues.

These groups are adept at using video and social media to build followings and solicit donations that have funded a sophisticated messaging machine. For example, the Christian nationalist group Action4Canada generates action calls to protest drag events and school board meetings across the county, complete with prepared slogans, placards, and form letters for its members to use, and addresses, phone numbers, and emails to use for intimidating messages. 

They’re backed up by sympathetic far-right news outlets backed by deep pockets like Rebel Media, True North, Canada Proud, and Life Site News, as well as from the mainstream right-wing PostMedia news empire, which often presents skeptical gay and lesbian columnists to question trans rights. Backlash against homophobic protestors also often gets breathlessly covered by American outlets like Fox News, which amplifies donations to these groups.

“On the one hand, we would say that highlighting that whenever these people decide to show up and be disruptive and harmful to a community, they are outnumbered, is a good thing, because it can give confidence to the people who are countering them,” Woodrow says. “So many of these far-right protests are meant to be disruptive of the event, but at the same time they’re propaganda events. That’s why you’ll see so many people live streaming and getting sound bites.”

The number of protestors is relatively small, and because the same organizers often turn up at multiple events in different cities, the local opposition is likely even smaller. They’re routinely vastly outnumbered by counter-protestors at events.

And yet the sheer number of anti-LGBTQ+ protests and their regular coverage in the media gives the false impression that their campaigns have some grassroots legitimacy that is growing and spreading.

A Canadian Pride flag displayed on Davie Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in the Davie Village, part of the West End area, which is Vancouver’s vibrant LGBTQ+ district.
(Photo courtesy of Brody Levesque)

Several Catholic school districts – in some parts of Canada, Catholic schools are publicly funded – have banned the flying of Pride flags. One town in Ontario also banned flying Pride flags on municipal property. 

Several drag story time events have been cancelled or postponed because of threats of violence, and at least one event in Montreal was cancelled at the order of a borough mayor who questioned its appropriateness. 

Last month, a woman who compared transgender children to feces was elected to the Alberta legislature. Although Jennifer Johnson was removed from the United Conservative Party caucus, the UCP leader has left the door open for Johnson to be welcomed back at some point.

And just last week, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs announced he was rescinding policies that protect trans students in the province’s schools, framing it as an issue of parents’ rights. Going forward, trans students will need their parents’ permissions to use a name or pronouns other than their given name in schools.

Higgs is now facing a party revolt due in part to the policy change and may be ousted as premier. 

That moving against LGBTQ+ people still carries political costs is of some comfort to queer Canadians.

LGBTQ+ activist Morgan Manzer is not surprised that Higgs’ move has backfired.“Several weeks ago I warned [Nova Scotian] politicians against attacking 2SLGBTQIA+ folks because it would end badly for them. @premierbhiggs may prove to be case and point. He miscalculated the strength and power of the 2SLGBTQIA+ movement,” Manzer tweeted.


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

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