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Inclusive spaces for 2SLGBTQI+ children: “For us, it’s a question of human right” -COPE President, Annette Toth

Below is a statement from the Executive Vice President of Canadian Labor Congress, Larry Rousseau regarding the rise of far-right and anti-trans groups who oppose the policy of inclusion of 2SLGBTQI+ children in Canadian schools.

COPE / SEPB unreservedly supports the CLC initiative and strongly denounces the actions taken by far-right groups.

“For COPE, it is a question of human rights. Attacking the policy of inclusion of 2SLGBTQI+ children is absurd and demonstrates a blatant lack of empathy and compassion. A progressive organization like ours must loudly denounce actions aimed at further isolating minority groups,” explains COPE President Annette Toth.

We invite you to read the following statement and take appropriate action:


Today, far-right and anti-trans groups organized protests against education policies designed to make schools safer and more inclusive spaces for 2SLGBTQI+ children.

Billed as the #1MillionMarch4Children, these groups are calling for parents to remove their children from school and join protests, rallies and other gatherings. Over 80 locations across the country have been announced as participating, with larger events planned in major cities. You will find a somewhat comprehensive listing of protest sites on the website of the so-called “anti-woke” organization, Blueprint for Canada. Note that while most events are taking place on September 20, some are planned for other days of this week.

Here are some ways you can take action against this disturbing rise of hatred and extremism:

  • Make a strong statement opposing any attack on 2SLGBTQI+ rights and these hate-motivated efforts to undermine the progress we have made in ensuring our schools are safe and welcoming learning environments for all students.
  • Amplify and support local, provincial and national allies who are leading the pushback against this growing hate movement and who are often the target of attacks, including EgaleMomentum Canada, and the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
  • We encourage you to reach out to local organizations and networks who may be planning counter-protests on this day, including already-established union flying squads, to get involved in planning, and to promote any planned counter-protests to your members. Some federations of labour have begun a coordinated effort and we encourage you to get involved.
  • Consider making a financial or in-kind donation to local groups and networks that are coordinating counter-protest action. Most are grassroots and led by volunteers, many of whom are queer and trans folk who have been dealing with this hatred on a daily basis. This might include donations, megaphones, food and water, masks, printing, marshall vests and trained marshalls, meeting space, etc.

Today’s events targeted  schools, school board offices, city or town halls, legislatures and offices of provincial politicians. If your local has a flying squad, I hope they were mobilized to be at these events and remain a counter-protest. connected with local 2SLGBTQI+ organizations. This will not be the last time these hate filled protests will take place so we need to be prepared for now and into the future. This guide provides tips on safety at counter-protests.

As you can imagine, today was a challenging day for our 2SLGBTQI+ members and the community, and these events raise serious health and safety concerns for workers, students, and community members regardless of gender or sexual orientation. We want our queer and trans friends, colleagues, and family members to know that they are loved and valued, and that their safety matters to all of us.

It’s important to pay attention to this movement, as their rhetoric and demands are being validated by conservative politicians in several provinces and echoed by the federal Conservatives. Education policies are being rolled back in at least two provinces, and under consideration elsewhere, with additional open musing about changes to legislation.

Bigotry and violence that threatens the fundamental human rights of 2SLGBTQI+ people require a strong unified response rooted in solidarity from all workers, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. An injury to one, is an injury to all.

A strong show of union solidarity for the 2SLGBTQI+ communities in the face of persistent and rising hatred and bigotry is essential.  COPE/SEPB remains 100% opposed to all forms of hate. sing hatred and bigotry is absolutely essential. We will continue to keep you posted on developments and encourage you to connect with our Human Rights Department as well as our regional staff if you have questions regarding our ongoing work or wish to share information.