School protest sparks intense rallying among transgender youth and activists

Intense counter-protests erupted outside two schools in west Ottawa on Tuesday after a man stood outside schools and protested against the use of puberty blockers for children who identify as transgender.

For two days this week, students at Broadview Public School and Nepean High School were greeted by Chris Elston, a man who has traveled across the country to share his concerns about whether trans children can consent hormone blockers that delay the signs of puberty.

He carried sandwich signs outside nearby schools with messages like “Children are never born in the wrong body,” which have been criticized by transgender activists.

“It’s an anti-trans position, because it says young trans people don’t have the autonomy to decide that they don’t want to go through puberty that won’t match their gender identity,” he said. said Lyra Evans, a citizen of Ottawa. Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) trustee and trans woman.

Last year in Vancouver, Elston paid for a billboard expressing support for author JK Rowling, who has also been criticized for his transphobia.

However, Elston insists his message is not transphobic and is often misunderstood.

“I love these kids. I love all these kids. All these people that were out there today, I mean, it’s kind of a crowd mentality, right?” he said.

“Most of them don’t even know what I stand for, but I think gender nonconformity is beautiful.”

On Tuesday, Elston made two different appearances outside Broadview Public School. He was joined by two supporters in the afternoon.

They were immediately greeted by a counter-demonstration featuring hundreds of students and parents holding signs, chanting and calling its message hateful and unwelcome.

As Elston’s group walked past the school, protesters swarmed over them, shouting ‘get out of town’ and ‘trans rights are human rights’.

Students from Nepean High School, located just down the street from Broadview Public High School, joined the counter-protest on Tuesday afternoon. (Jean Delisle / CBC)

“He claims trans lives are important and then shows a complete and utter disrespect for all their autonomy and real thoughts,” said Nerisse Kazmierski, a student at Nepean high school.

“Children know themselves, and he shouldn’t be trying to tell them who they are and who they shouldn’t be.”

Christian Wright, who organized the counter-protest, said it was “important for me as a trans person and as the organizer of a queer organization to be here to support trans children and protect children. trans and show them that they are loved and supported in our community. ”

A policeman blocks traffic as protesters follow Elston and his supporters. (Jean Delisle / CBC)

Elston walked silently through the crowd, holding his phone and presumably filming the protesters around him.

Police were on hand to help block traffic but did not interfere with the protest until the end, when Elston’s sign was taken from him and destroyed by the crowd.

Immediately after, Elston returned to his car and drove off, with protesters chasing him.

In a statement, the OCDSB wrote that “students, families and staff of all gender identities and expressions have the right to feel safe physically and emotionally, to be welcomed and accepted at school.”

He then called on anyone who witnessed or suffered “hate or discrimination” to report it to staff, a manager or the office of the Human Rights and Fairness Advisor.

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