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Duelling protests over LGBTQ rights outside Ottawa schools draw hundreds

Hundreds of people rallied against what an organizer calls “gender ideology” near three west-end Ottawa schools today, as hundreds more joined a counter-protest in support of transgender rights. 

Police arrested five people in connection with the protests but wouldn’t share more information about why. 

The protest against gender identity being taught in schools was organized by activist Chris Elston, while community groups Horizon Ottawa and Community Solidarity Ottawa mobilized the counter-protest. 

Police closed a stretch of Broadview Avenue in Westboro between Carling Avenue and Tillbury Avenues and divided the crowd into several groups along the street. 

Notre Dame High School is located on that section of the street, and Broadview Avenue Public School and Nepean High School are located another block away. 

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has urged the protesters to move their demonstrations away from the schools.  

“Adults should never make children and youth feel threatened or intimidated. Protests that are intended to provoke students, staff, families and/or community members to generate attention or social media traffic are completely unacceptable,” the board said in a press release ahead of the planned protest. 

Neighbourhood resident Tris Harrison said he has two kids who attend Broadview Avenue Public School, one in kindergarten and another in Grade 2. 

Harrison said while he respects protesters’ democratic rights, the demonstrations are unfair and disruptive to the children in nearby schools. 

“I don’t want my (kids’) school used as a prop,” he said. 

“Is this fair to a seven-year-old?”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2023. 

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Liam Fox, The Canadian Press


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