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Call to Action: Combat Transphobic Hate on September 20

Morgan Oddie

September 18, 2023
Far right organizers have called for nationwide actions on September 20 in opposition to 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion in public schools. Under the guise of parental and religious rights, various groups are calling for a K-12 walkout to challenge “gender ideology” and “overt sexualized materials” in curriculum. 
However, it is very clear that is not about keeping children safe. This type of dog whistling is intentionally deployed by the far right to spread and amplify homophobia and transphobia. 
Ontario Premiere Doug Ford has also strategically signal boosted this hate, following the lines of Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick and Scott Moe of Saskatchewan. By calling out the “indoctrination” by school boards and teachers, Ford attempted to shift the conversation from the Greenbelt scandal. We can also see this as a vindictive attempt by Ford to build public anger against education staff who have been at the forefront of rejecting his austerity regime. This ongoing attacks on public education is a convergence of both social and economic conservatism, and trans identities have become core far right talking points.
To understand why we need to resist and outnumber to the far-right protest on September 20, it is also important to know why it is important to protect and strengthen trans inclusionary education.
The educational policies that are at stake here are guidelines that preserve the privacy, confidentiality, health, safety, and dignity of transgender and gender non-conforming students. This includes the right for students to change their names, pronouns, and appearances as free and full expressions of their genders. These ensure equitable access and full participation in public education, including participation in sports teams and fieldtrips, and access to safe washroom facilities.
Far-right organizers see the confidentiality of transgender expression as a violation of parental rights and want schools to be less safe for 2SLGBTQIA+ students. They wish to make it difficult or impossible for trans youth to find safe spaces. Wild accusations of “grooming” argue that children will be more susceptible to sexual abuse by educators.
This is another queerphobic dog whistle that stigmatizes and disproportionately targets 2SLGBTQIA+ workers in public education.
Since 2012 with the passing of Bill 33 Toby’s Act, the Ontario Human Rights Code has recognized gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination. The strawman of “radical gender ideology” that the far right seeks to combat is just demonization of basic provincial human rights law, which protects workers and public institutional access. 
As with the Convoy protests, the multiple groups organizing for September 20 have different messaging, but all are aligned in their aim to eliminate gender diversity in youth, and by extension, the adults they become. These organizers are an alliance of far-right ideologies, from Hands Off Our Kids, headed by a few ultra-conservative Muslim leaders, to right wing anti-vaxxers and xenophobes. Among these are also settlers who have tried to appropriate the message of ‘Every Child Matters’ to cater to their hate politics. 
However, we are also seeing a grass-roots alliance in resistance to this message of hate. Queer Muslim networks across the country have responded strongly. In an Instagrampost last week, the Queer Muslim Network Toronto wrote, “In this frightful time, please remember that queer and trans Muslims have always existed, and always will. We all built this community together, and it will never be torn down by the haram police.” Indigenous activists, labour unions, and racialized community groups have also spoken up against the Sept 20 action, and all across Canada we are witnessing counter-protests with progressive and inclusionary messaging.
Local actions are varying by community. It is essential that counter-protestors show up to challenge each of these, and ensure there is no space for transphobia in education or in our communities. Socialists and other allies of queer communities can participate in the counter-protests organized across the county, many of which are listed here.  
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