Protesters and counter-protesters converge at Barrie City Hall over school policies on gender identity

People gathered at Barrie City Hall Wednesday morning as part of protests and counter-protests across Canada regarding the way schools teach sexuality and gender identity and how teachers refer to transgender youth.

Coined as the “1MillionMarch4Children,” protest organizers say they are standing together against what they call “gender ideology” in the nation’s schools.

They say schools are exposing their children to inappropriate content about sexuality and gender identity, and they support the policies requiring parental consent.

Protesters and counter-protesters at Barrie City Hall on Wednesday morning

“As parents, we have to protect and we have to defend our children,” Paul McCulloch, a pastor at Barrie Victory Centre, told Barrie 360 at the protest. “And a parent is the absolute authority over their child, not a school system.”

Organizers of the cross-country event say demonstrations are not against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

They add that their mission is “standing up to free our children from the bondage of indoctrination.”

“I don’t want any indoctrination into my kids’ lives,” said McCulloch. “I want their parents to be free to educate their children … and not have a school system decide what they want to do with that.”

At city hall, the rally was met with counter-protesters who say those policies are a violation of children’s rights.

Protesters and counter-protesters converge at city hall

Amanda Fellows, a parent, and counter-protester, told Barrie 360 she was saddened by the amount of hate that showed up.

“I think sometimes people get confused that teaching things means that people are going to become something,” said Fellows. “When the reality is that all education does is breathe compassion and breathe understanding.

“I want my kids to learn that from the very point in which they can take that information in, because I want them to grow up to be kind, compassionate human beings.”

Images captured by Barrie 360

– With files from The Canadian Press