July 14th, 2024

Public schools have a duty to protect queer kids

By Lethbridge Herald on September 30, 2023.

Erika Shaker and Jon Milton


On Sept. 20, crowds in cities and towns across the country gathered to protest against schools’ teaching children about the existence of 2SLGBTQ+ people.

If you ask the organizers – many of whom are deeply connected to far-right and hate networks – they would say they have nothing against people with differing sexual orientations or gender identities; they’re just opposed to teaching it to children.

Are schools overstepping their boundaries on gender identity issues?

But then, what happens when a child develops their first crush – and it’s on someone of the same gender? What happens when a kid starts to realize that they don’t feel at home in the gender that they’re in?

Every gay man, every trans woman, every non-binary person, every lesbian – every adult was a child once. Growing up means discovering ourselves – coming to terms with our desires, with our identity, and making our own way. Kids need to be given the space to explore who they are, and what they want to become, without having adults – even loving ones – try to put them into a box they don’t fit in. Kids want to be able to support their friends who are going through this same journey. Teaching kids about gender gives them the tools to do that.

The great Lebanese poet and artist Khalil Gibran, in his poem On Children, wrote:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

We fought for decades – and are still fighting – for quality public education for all kids, regardless of identity or family income. Schools need to be a place for children to build themselves what Gibran called the “house of tomorrow.” In addition to being an attack on queer youth, these protests are also an attack on public schools, and an attempt to take those tools and opportunities away from kids.

It isn’t the first time conspiracy theorists, religious extremists, and far-right activists have whipped up a public frenzy over made-up stories about public school teachers. In 1980s America, it was about teachers performing satanic rituals on kids – over the decade, they fabricated over 12,000 stories about “satanic ritual abuse” in schools and daycares. Not one was an actual case of “satanic ritual abuse.”

The panic continued to spread. Like a witch hunt, the mob of parents trying to “protect their children from satanic rituals” decided that teachers were out to get their children, and they were out for blood. They got teachers fired, took over school boards, and weakened public education.

Today, it isn’t satan – it’s trans kids. The same coalition of right-wing culture warriors is using a different scapegoat to target public education.

Many of the organizers and participants in the anti-trans rallies absolutely do want gender ideology taught to children – they just want it to be a very specific type of gender ideology. 

One in which only men and women can be attracted to each other, and each one stays within their traditional gender roles. One where “hands off our kids” means a health curriculum without concepts like consent or bodily autonomy.

Men decide, women nurture, and queers get back in the closet. That’s the gender ideology these people want children to learn.

But here’s the thing – we’re not going back. Women fought long and hard on the unsteady and unfinished path to equality, and 2SLGBTQ+ people fought decades-long struggles to get to the point where we can be queer in public without fear or shame. We will not be going back to the dark ages. And we will defend ourselves from attack.

Erika Shaker is the national office director, and Jon Milton is a senior communications specialist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

© Troy Media


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Southern Albertan

1.”Gender roles were fluid in pre-colonial societies. Individuals with cross- gender identity were revered in First Nations cultures and looked to as leaders, visionaries, and healers. It wasn’t until the onset of federally run residential schools in the late 19th century, and the aggressive proliferation of European Christian influences, that being gay became stigmatized.”
“Beyond the Binary: Two-Spirit People”
2.”What Does the Bible Say About Transgender People?”
3.”14 LGBTQ+ Innovators, Inventors and Scientists who changed the world”
Re: #2, Alan Turing, a gay man/scientist, “who helped build the algorithms and machines which broke the previously uncrackable Enigma codes used by the Nazis, helping to bring an end to the war.” The movie, “The Imitation Game,” describes his legendary accomplishments, talents, and abysmal treatment for being gay….well worth watching.


great entry, thank you. however, we seem to have a tendency to try and stereotype every group/era into an all-as-one whole. but, rarely do societies, ethnicities, races, religions, sexes entirely agree/see things from a mono perspective. that said, your point is well taken by me: great people come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and from any and every background. that is part of the many lessons we are best to learn and glean from our time here…they all seem to result in developing our capacity for unconditional love.

old school

“Teaching about the existence “ . The schools are going too far . Promoting
the existence. That is wrong . Boys are boys , girls are girls. Kids can be confused perhaps, but they should be taught that any one of the alphabet club is not normal. 2% does not represent a norm. Why was this clearly understood 20 or 40 years ago? My arm is missing. I’m not normal either. Stop promoting unhealthy and abnormal behaviour in schools.


In the small town where I grew up, there were two women who lived together. They were not sisters, but they were widely referred to as the “Aunts” up the road. Everyone knew they were in a same-sex relationship, but few spoke of their relationship out loud, especially in so-called “polite company.”
They lived in the village for decades but were seldom seen together in public. They lived their lives behind closed doors and drawn curtains. Nothing was said, but they knew they weren’t welcome at church rummage sales, strawberry socials, minor hockey fund-raising dances, and the like. How horrible that must have been for them, not being accepted for who they were. They were denied the opportunity to participate fully in village life all because they were expected to stay in the closet.
Several recent polls have shown that Canadians’ attitudes towards 2SLBGTQ+ people have shifted substantially since then. However, as this comment from old school demonstrates, along with recent events in Fort Macleod and elsewhere, there remains a reservoir of intolerance.

Last edited 9 months ago by Older-Than-Old-School

this is a wonderful entry in that it reminds us that we all are feeling beings ( i suppose save for psycho/sociopaths). while this reality took place in a small town, we all too well know that small minds exist pretty much everywhere.


it is quite sickening how often it is that the ones that profess to be so godly are in fact so far removed. typically, they use their religion as a means of power and control, and judgment to compensate for their fear.
no one owns the book on how each must live, nor is anyone an expert on what is normal. let each to their own, for god sake. people will make up their own minds around their life and body – that is the right of each, always with respect to the rights of others. even if one does not feel ready to further their capacity to be nonjudgmental, loving beings of light, one does not at all have the right to interfere upon the universal rights of each. wishing you love and light.


Totally ignoring the content of your comment, as it isn’t at all worth discussing, Id like to point out how you don’t know what the normal curve is.

Without both extremes of outliers on the normal curve, the normal curve would not be what it is.

In order to have a normal distribution, you need to have the outliers on each end of the spectrum to fill out, and dare say define, what is “normal.” Without those outliers you just have a bump in the mode that would have no meaning and vice versa.


Public schcols have a duty to educate….kids are shunted along grades not meeting a minimum standard and emerge unable to read or write other than in emojis and text terms – incapable of independant critical thought, which is stifled in schools mandating ” correct thought” as set by a fraction of the population.
Anyone suggesting schools focus more on education and less on indoctrination is labelled a far right extremist, as this “opinion” illustrates and is labelled ” the enemy”. I would respectfully suggest “the enemy” if one need be found [ and I don’t see the need ] is the mindset which attempts to usurp education and acquisition of life skills and replace it with an agenda that has nothing to do with the mandate of schooling.

Mrs. Kidd (she/her)

I recommend you read the Alberta Education Act, and pay close attention to the sections that address the duty of care.