Quebec Conservative Party leader launches drag queen story hour petition
When people protested loudly outside a drag queen story hour in front of children in the South Shore community of Ste-Catherine earlier this month, politicians and activists rallied behind the performers, who are part of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Even the Quebec national assembly reacted by unanimously adopting a resolution denouncing intolerance towards the LGBTQ2S+ community.
But the Quebec Conservative Party leader claims many Quebecers aren’t comfortable with drag performers reading books to young audiences.
"There's a strong percentage of the population in Quebec that does not agree with the drag queens in our kindergarten, our schools or our public libraries," Duhaime told CTV News outside the national assembly, where his party failed to win any seats during the last provincial election.
Duhaime says not everyone is on board with the government. "It a unanimous consent in the national assembly behind me, and apparently, there's a democratic disconnect."
Duhaime launched a petition demanding public funds not be used to promote drag queen story hours, and that parents must first give specific consent. Nearly 20,000 people signed the document in just two days.
"It's the parents who should decide if yes or no they want to get their kids to introduce the theory of gender, for example, or sexual identity that exists. It's not the role of a drag queen to do that," added Duhaime, who himself is a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
But other activists point out that drag queen story hours were created to teach inclusion and tolerance.
"I think this is part of a broader reaction against the fact that Quebec has become increasingly inclusive over the last decade; in a way, this is a backlash to it," said trans activist Celeste Trianon.
Trianon, who is also the executive director of the Trans Legal Collective, said the radicalization against trans people and drag queens has led to violence and that she fears Duhaime's actions will lead to new forms of intolerance.
"Trans people are scared now because even if they have rights now, they're very volatile, and can easily be stolen away," Trianon said.
Other parties at the national assembly dismissed Duhaime's petition as political posturing, while worrying about the message he's sending to his followers.
"He needs to be very careful about the issues he brings forward because he's opening up a debate that will cause a ripple effect and have a very negative impact on a community he himself is a member [of]," said Jennifer Maccarone, the Quebec Liberal Party's critic on LGBTQ2S+ issues and MNA for Westmount-St-Louis.
But Duhaime isn't budging.
He wants to present his petition to the national assembly, once he has enough people backing him.