Terence Kernaghan MPP, London North Centre

Government of Ontario

Official Opposition Queer Caucus: Anti-2SLGBTQI+ rhetoric hurts kids; Ford must ensure safe schools

Published on September 20, 2023

QUEEN’S PARK ⁠— The Official Opposition Queer Caucus —MPPs Jill Andrew, Terence Kernaghan, Lise Vaugeois, and Kristyn Wong-Tam⁠—released the following statement condemning the so-called “Hands Off Our Kids” rallies taking place across Ontario today:

“Today’s demonstrations are driven by misinformation that hurts young people and their families. To all 2SLGBTQI+ youth and communities, we see you, and we love you for who you are. Hate groups are getting louder and your fear is legitimate, but we will fight like hell to keep you safe.

The Official Opposition wants Trans kids to safely grow up into adults. That is why Ontario must do more to make our schools safe and accepting for Trans, Non-Binary, and gender-non-conforming students. Statistics Canada found that our 2SLGBTQIA+ youth are more likely to experience bullying, including a higher frequency of bullying and a greater diversity of bullying tactics, than their cis and straight peers. A study prepared for Children’s Aid Society of Toronto showed that 60% of trans youth who don’t have supportive parents contemplate suicide and 57% make an attempt. However, when a young trans person has a supportive family their rate of attempt drops to 4%—93% lower. These numbers are dramatic. And they show just how important the roles of parents are in these young people’s lives. Trans and non-binary children want love and acceptance – just like every other child. If a child doesn’t have this support at home, but they can find it at school, that is beautiful. It can even be life-saving.” 


MPP Jill Andrew (Toronto—St. Paul’s):

“The safety of children is being actively compromised by the anti-Trans movement. Trans lives matter. Trans youth matter, and must be protected. I urge the Premier to condemn the hateful, violent action seen across the country and certainly in Ontario. Let trans children know they are safe to be who they are in the province of Ontario with tangible protections that ensure it. Then move your focus to fixing all else that is broken in Ontario that is making life more and more difficult for Ontarians, giving rise to this dangerous movement.”

MPP Terence Kernaghan (London North Centre):

“At a time when an overwhelming majority of Ontarians are angry with Doug Ford bulldozing the Greenbelt, the Premier is distracting people from his corruption crisis with this cruel and pathetic attack on Trans youth. Ford is threatening to “out” young people while Poilievre is invoking conversion therapy. Would a true leader attack young people who are already struggling? Make no mistake, the Premier’s words threaten young people’s physical safety and could push countless more into homelessness. These are despicable and desperate actions from a failing leader. Premier Ford must correct his mistake.”

MPP Lise Vaugeois (Thunder Bay—Superior North): 

“Conservatives have invented a crisis for political gain by putting the lives of young people at risk. This is not leadership. This is the ugliest form of public manipulation: Creating a sense of panic to gain public support at the expense of those Trans youth who have found a safe space at school to be themselves. Putting young people’s lives at risk is unforgivable and I beg Conservatives of conscience to call out the Premier for exploiting these cheap tactics to regain his own lost credibility.”

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre):

“Parents are telling me their concerns about what they are hearing from social conservative activists. And they are realizing that so much of it is untrue. Loving, well-intentioned parents are being misled, told that their children are being encouraged to keep their gender identity a secret at home. This is not true. And it makes me angry that a few bad actors are spreading this misinformation and causing so much stress to parents.

We have to put this into perspective: what we are disagreeing over here today is the minority of situations, where a Trans child or youth has felt safe enough to express their gender at school but not at home. We should be celebrating that Ontario’s schools and education workers offer those safe spaces. We should be increasing the supports offered to 2SLGBTQIA+ students, not forcing them to make the often impossible decision of either expressing themselves at school or staying safe at home.

2SLGBTQI+ communities are feeling hurt and afraid. But Ontario does not even have a plan to combat growing radicalization against our communities. The fear and trauma that Two-Spirit, Queer, and Trans Ontarians are feeling is Doug Ford’s fault. Ontario’s NDP has called for a strategy to combat hate crimes, we have tabled legislation to combat rising threats, and this government has refused to lift a finger. Doug Ford needs to let Ontarians know—by his actions —which side he is on now.”

Ontario NDP Education Critic, MPP Chandra Pasma (Ottawa West—Nepean):

“All children deserve to feel safe in Ontario schools. This government is spurring hatred towards our most vulnerable students and has emboldened an agenda of hate in order to change the channel on their greenbelt scandal. This behaviour is inexcusable. For some kids, school is the only safe place they have, and we need to protect that.”