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Protesters square off in Red Deer over gender policies in schools

A few hundred people gather for 1 Million March for Children
2SLGBTQ+ supporters gathered about a block away from the 1 Million March for Children on Sept. 20, 2023. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools trustee Monique LaGrange, who recently posted an Instagram story that likened the Pride movement to Nazism received a hero’s welcome at a protest in support of parent’s rights over the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ students.

“This fight is about family. This fight is about our children and we need to stand up,” LaGrange told a cheering crowd of about 350 people at a gathering ahead of the 1 Million March for Children held at City Hall Park on Wednesday morning.

“You are the dominant educator so you need to stand in that role and we need to teach our children and keep them from agendas that are out there.”

The march was being held in cities across Canada fueled by debate about gender policy in schools. Local organizer Tim Hoven said the event was about protecting children’s rights.

“This is not an anti-trans or an anti-LGBTQ+ rally. Parents want to be involved in the lives of their children and they don’t want to be excluded from any aspect of it,” Hoven said before supporters marched down nearby sidewalks with placards and chanted.


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At a counter-protest about a block away, about 50 2SLGBTQIA+ supporters gathered waving PRIDE flags.

Participant Garren Reid said many in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community have suffered mental health issues, including suicide, because of hatred towards them.

He said young children who feel different can’t speak their truth at home out of fear of what will happen.

“If they’re living in that type of environment, the only safe place for them is at school where our teachers can protect them. GSAs (Gay-Straight Alliances) can be there for them,” Reid said.

He said children need to be protected, but in today’s political climate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is in danger of their rights being taken away.

“We’ve seen atrocities over the years. Men bled and died to give us our rights and we can’t have them taken away,” Reid said


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In a statement, Red Deer Queer Community Association said the March for Children aims to pressure local and provincial governments to implement policies and legislation to ban teaching 2SLGBTQIA+ subjects in Canada’s schools.

“We stand in solidarity with our counterparts across the country in our opposition to the protests that would deny the youth of our community safety and acceptance that they need in our schools. The RDQCA stands by the youth of our community and believes that schools should always be a safe place to learn about themselves and the community to find acceptance,” the association said in a statement on Facebook.

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley also released a statement in response to the 1 Million March for Children.

“The protests being held today are designed to divide us, to spread misinformation and to stoke fear for political gain. They target the most vulnerable among us, our kids.

“Let’s be perfectly clear — if one group’s human rights are cast aside, more will follow. Those who seek to normalize trans hate will then move on to racism and misogyny. We can’t let that happen,” Notley said.

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan said at the event governments and school boards are making gross mistakes with blanket rules based on rare exceptions, especially when it means keeping secrets from parents.

“It’s a very serious manner for government to interpose themselves between families and children. Parents have a sacred, moral duty to their children that pre-exists government. Parental rights do not exist because of government. Governments exists because parents say so,” Stephan told the crowd at the 1 Million March for Children in Red Deer.

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