A rally will be held at Coquitlam City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 20 as part of a cross-Canada protest to speak against sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in the classroom.
Coquitlam is one of about 70 communities across the country where demonstrations will be staged at municipal halls and school district offices, as well as the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, to "emphasize the importance of transparency in education," according to Hands Off Our Kids.
Billed as the 1 Million March 4 Children, the movement aims to draw attention to the cause and urges supporters to join in the rally or to withdraw their kids from schools for the day.
It is not aimed at the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, the movement's website states.
Jack Fonseca, director of political operations for Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), which is backing the rally with such groups as Veterans for Freedom, Parents for Parents' Rights and DontDeleteParents.ca, told the Tri-City News on Monday, Sept. 18, that the goal is to voice concern about the exposure to explicit sexual content in schools and to ensure that parental consent is paramount.
The group is led nationally by Kamel El-Cheikh, "a dad who is fed up with this non-stop brainwashing in schools," Fonseca said.
"We also have been fighting it for many years…. We are opposed to amputating body parts through sex-change surgeries for transitioning. It drives up the suicide rate for those who make that decision. This is truly dangerous and deadly."
"We support the local organization in getting the SOGI [Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity] propaganda out of the school. Canadian parents have woken up."
Fonseca claimed Canadian parents are also united against flying the Pride flag at civic and school institutions, as well as the extension of the Pride Day to Pride Month and Pride seasons.
The rally comes three months after CLC launched its inaugural National Pride Flag Walk-Out Day in Canada and nine months after protesters crashed a drag queen story time outside of the City Centre branch of the Coquitlam Public Library.
The next month, students and staff with Dr. Charles Best Secondary’s Gay–Straight Alliance (GSA) successfully lobbied Coquitlam city council to raise the Pride flag outside of city hall in June and to organize a Pride event in the summer.
Like at the drag queen story time demonstration at the library, Coquitlam RCMP say officers will be monitoring the protest to preserve the peace, protect life and property and enforce the law, if necessary.
"The RCMP respects the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly while also ensuring the safety of all citizens," the detachment's communications team wrote in a statement to the Tri-City News.
"Police response to protests utilize community conflict management principles focusing on communication and mitigation measures. This ensures police always respect the lawful exercise of personal rights and freedoms, and that traditional policing options such as arrest are used only as a last resort."
As for School District 43, the board of education told the Tri-City News that if parents are concerned about what's being taught in their child's classroom, they can speak with their kids' teacher or principal.
"The Board of Education is dedicated to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all of our students. We are worried about misinformation that is spreading online and elsewhere about curriculum related to sexual orientation and gender identity [SOGI] in schools. We are concerned that this misinformation and rhetoric is making students less safe," the board wrote in a statement.
"SOGI is not a dedicated curriculum in B.C. It offers a set of resources to explore curricular themes and competencies, which are found in the provincial Physical and Health Education (PHE) curriculum. Classroom activities are designed to provide age-appropriate learning opportunities. The approach is to build understanding of the diverse society that we live in and learn to treat each other with dignity and respect, regardless of our differences."
It added, "Teachers do not suggest students develop a particular set of beliefs around sexual orientation or gender identity. It is about respecting all people and the many types of diversity in our society."