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Competing protests in Montreal over LGBTQ2S+ inclusive education

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Tensions ran high at a protest downtown today after a group claiming to represent parents opposed to teaching gender identity in schools was met with a much larger counter protest.

Defenders of the LGBTQ2S+ community arrived early outside the offices of the education minister trying to prevent a group calling itself "Save the Children" from holding their own demonstration.

The conservative and religious groups fighting against the current sexual education curriculum in schools finally managed to reach their destination by circumventing the area. They were no more than a hundred as a wall of police officers kept the two groups well separated as both sides traded taunts.

"Gender cult, gender theory, queer ideology — call that whatever you want. It's an ideology, it's not science, it's not knowledge," said Agnes Collin, a member of Save the Children.

Save the Children is a splinter movement originally launched by far-right religious activists involved with the so-called Freedom Convoy. They held a much bigger event across Canada in September.

Saturday's participants claim they remain misunderstood by the majority.

They incorrectly claimed that elementary schools teach children gender identity against the wishes of parents.

"[Let] them live their childhood with their Barbies and little trucks," said Gisele Picard, an activist.

Yet the counter-protesters say tolerance and early education about gender identity is the best way to protect children from discrimination and obstacles later in life.

"I'm very proud to say that schools in Montreal are welcoming, supportive places for LGBTQ2 youth and trans youth," said Elise Bourgault, who participated in the counter protest.

The event was organized by LGBTQ2S+ groups and self-proclaimed anarchists, but many counter protesters came out to denounce what they say are the lies regarding trans children.

"It is so sad to see all these people try to walk back the progression we've had in the last few years and the laws we put in place and the guidelines that have been put into place to protect trans children and to foster their inclusion in schools," said Mary-Ann Miller, an arts teacher.

The two groups started to disperse around noon, with no major incidents reported by Montreal police.

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