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Brawl breaks out amid duelling Vancouver protests over LGBTQ2S+ education

Violence erupted between opponents and supporters of LGBTQ2S+ education during a pair of duelling protests held in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday.

At least one person was taken away in handcuffs following a brawl outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, where protesters against the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in schools clashed with a vastly larger group of counter-protesters expressing support for transgender youths and their families.

Video captured by CTV News suggests the first punch was thrown at a counter-protester dressed head-to-toe in black, which prompted others to join the fight. 

Police eventually stepped in and escorted away one man, dressed in a plaid shirt, who shouted anti-gay slurs at the crowd.

It's unclear whether anyone else was arrested. CTV News has reached out to the Vancouver Police Department for more information.

Similar demonstrations were held outside legislatures, city halls and school boards across Canada Wednesday, with the anti-SOGI protests organized by a group called 1 Million March 4 Children.

"My kids don't go to school to learn this. They go to school to learn mathematics, languages, they don't go to school to learn about SOGI,” said one woman who identified herself to CTV News as Masa. 

The organizers' website advocates for the end of "(SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools," describing their efforts as an attempt to "protect our children from indoctrination and sexualization."

Paul Dirks, a pastor at New West Community Church was with the anti-SOGI protestors, but said his concerns go beyond school curriculum and also include gender affirming care for young people.

"I'm also concerned about medical transition and the fact that it is such a risky and harmful undertaking and treatment,” Dirks told CTV News.

While the group has a "statement of inclusion" that asserts support from some in the LGBTQ2S+ community, the protests prompted a response from the Canadian Anti-Hate Network alleging their efforts are also supported by "a big tent of far-right and conspiratorial groups, including Christian nationalists, COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, sovereign citizens, and anti-public education activists."

Thousands of counter-protestors descended on Robson Square, shouting down the estimated 200 to 300 anti-SOGI marchers.

"I am part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and I'm a teacher and I believe that it is dangerous to not allow trans kids to be open and transparent about who they are, especially at school,” said a woman named Erin.

Others said they felt it was important to show up because they feel the ‘1 Million March 4 Children’ is a cover for people to express transphobic and homophobic views.

"I know a fair number of trans folks and queer folks, including myself, and a lot of my friends and a few of my family, and we all find the interests represented on the far side of the square rather threatening." Top Stories

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