The following OPEN LETTER was issued by Sault Pride
The Queer/Trans community is made up of parents and children, aunts and uncles, siblings and niblings, and supportive friends of all ages. We, like the overwhelming majority of others, want a wholesome and carefree life for every child. For us, though, in stark contrast to the organisers of Wednesday’s “1 Million March 4 Children”, that actually means every single child, exactly as they are.
It is deeply disappointing that there remain individuals in 2023 whose homophobia and transphobia outweigh the rights of all children to an accepting, supportive school environment and an education which grounds them in the realities of the world they inhabit. Every member of society should be invested in ensuring that the next generation is fully educated and kept safe, but this group would strip from children the very safeguards upon which some of them depend. Far from damaging students, many studies over the last several decades have demonstrated conclusively that early, age-appropriate education on anatomy, sexuality, and relationships gives children the tools they need to prevent or report abuse and to develop empathy for those whose identities or families may be different from their own.
The ever-expanding campaign for ill-defined “parental rights” in education will have deadly consequences for our children. The statistics as reported by The Trevor Project are staggering: 45% of those surveyed seriously considered suicide; importantly, though, both family support and an affirming educational environment were shown to reduce suicidality in queer and trans youth. In addition to the risk of suicide from feelings of isolation and exclusion, queer and trans youth face an elevated risk of homelessness. According to The 519, 25-40% of homeless Canadian youth identify as 2SLGBTQIA+, whereas only about 4% of Canada’s total population identifies as queer or trans. This is to say nothing of the abuse our community’s children may face at home if forcibly outed to their parents.
Sault Pride denounces, vehemently and unequivocally, the voices rallying against the so-called “Sexual Orientation and Gender Ideology curriculum”. Children both need and deserve to be given the vocabulary to express themselves and describe their experience accurately and honestly. We must protect children, not from this vocabulary and the supports that come with it, but from the tyranny of a vocal minority who wish to supersede children’s essential rights to privacy and self-expression. Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, and it’s time for Canadians to protect the rights guaranteed to our children.
We ask that you reach out to your elected representatives to demand that comprehensive gender and sexuality education remain in place and that children retain the right to be addressed as they see fit. Then we hope you’ll join us at City Hall at 9am on Wednesday, September 20th, where The Klub 2SLGBTQ+ Community Centre is gathering the community to stand against hate. Sault Pride stands with them in solidarity for the good of all children