File photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

Traffic chaos as police keep peace at Durham protests

Traffic chaos was reported in western Durham as protestors – for and against the elimination of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum and policies – marched.

“There have been significant traffic impacts as a result of the 1 Million March 4 Children protest taking place,” said a City of Pickering alert yesterday.

“Avoid the Liverpool and Kingston Road/Highway 401 vicinity and consider using alternative routes,” it advised.

Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) said police were on the scene at Liverpool and Pickering Parkway in Pickering for the protest. The area was shut down. At that time, police advised residents and visitors to consider alternative routes.

Earlier on Tuesday, DRPS had promised that police will be present to keep the peace and will enforce all applicable laws.

“The ‘1 Million March 4 Children’, taking place today (September 20) throughout the country, has raised many questions and concerns within our community,” said Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe.

“Current plans for anti-2SLGBTQIA+ demonstrations at Esplanade Park and City Hall have garnered support from a segment of our residents as well as some far-right hate organizations,” he pointed out.

“While respecting the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression, let us prioritize dialogue, understanding, and unity that reduces harm and fosters respect for all,” he said.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity curriculum

“While the campaign claims to advocate for children’s rights, its underlying objective is the elimination of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum and policies, which play a crucial role in promoting inclusivity and educating youth about diversity, respect, and acceptance,” Mayor Ashe said in an issued statement.

“Eliminating SOGI curriculum and policies fosters discrimination, perpetuates stereotypes, increases bullying, and causes tremendous harm to 2SLGBTQIA+ students… This pattern cannot continue.

“I want to make it clear that the City of Pickering stands firmly in its commitment to advancing equity, diversity, inclusion, and protecting human rights of all individuals, including 2SLGBTQIA+ community members. We support comprehensive and inclusive education in our learning environments and beyond,” Mayor Ashe added.

Whitby support

Referring to protests in Whitby, town Mayor Elizabeth Roy said the Town of Whitby supports 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.

“I commend the Durham District School Board and all school boards in Ontario that are working to ensure safe spaces for 2SLGBTQIA+ students and staff. Today’s protests claim to support the rights of children – but in fact, they do the opposite,” she said..

She was also “alarmed” by the increasingly harmful anti-2SLGBTQIA+ rhetoric that is being directed towards schools.

“We know that rates of suicide and self-harm are higher for students in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and in some cases, school is the only safe place for them.

“I respect the right to peaceful protest, however, events that specifically target the 2SLGBTQIA+ community have no place in our town,” Mayor Roy added.

No place for hate

Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster expressed commitment to supporting 2SLGBTQIA+ community. “Today and every day, I want to state clearly that hate and intolerance have no place in Clarington. Be kind to one another.”

Durham District School Board (DDSB) said as a show of support for members of the 2SLGBTQI community, DDSB schools and worksites will display the progress pride flag for the duration of this week.

KPR center and schools too had the Pride Flag flying. “We are committed to inclusive teaching, learning, and working environments where all identities are valued,” it said.

Durham Children’s Aid Society reiterated its “unwavering solidarity and commitment” to gender equity. It said every month is Pride Month at Durham Children’s Aid Society.

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