On September, I attended and covered the 1 Million March 4 Children protest and the counter-protest that took place in Kitchener. This story is featured in the centre spread of this month’s print edition, pgs. 8-9.
I spoke to some of the parents at the protest and left feeling very confused. It baffles me that people can preach love, compassion and kindness, yet be so blatantly disrespectful of others’ identities.
I also saw many Brown folks at the protest, which was disheartening.
Most Brown cultures do not traditionally have very rigid ideas of gender—these are often, not always, the remnants of colonial ideas forced on our ancestors. Sometimes, for example, the way typical men presented themselves in their societies did not fit into colonial ideas and they were penalized for it. For an in-depth example, you can refer to Colonial Masculinity: The ‘Manly Englishman’ and the ‘Effeminate Bengali’ in the Late Nineteenth Century (Studies in Imperialism) by Mrinalini Sinha.
So, it was very disheartening to see so many Brown folks at the protest. Qazi Mustabeen Noor wrote an editorial for Spring, titled “Dear Muslims in Canada: Do not be fooled by anti-trans protests”. In it, she recognizes the many different paths that bring Muslim immigrants to Canada.
She acknowledges that Canada is not a multicultural paradise, but it has offered many folks a place to start over.
However, she advocates supporting other marginalized communities and being aware of divisive tactics of far-right politics.
“Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, agender, asexual and queer people have always existed all over the world,” she writes.
“Banning all 2SLGBTQIA+ content from school will not erase the existence of queer people overnight,” Noor writes.
Noor’s article continues to talk about the double standards of protesting 2SLGBTQIA+ content but not cis- and hetero-normative content in curricula. She warns that divisive tactics of far-right politics often use minorities as scapegoats.
Those who seek to dominate, to assert their will over that of others, to oppress others regardless of whether or not they recognize it—they can tolerate someone as long as they have use for them. Seeing Brown folks supporting far-right causes incites fear and dread in me. I cannot control others’ opinions or actions and they completely have the right to make their own choices. But seeing members of my community or communities similar to my own is concerning—what will happen to those people if ever someone needs a scapegoat?
I can understand some of why the 1 Million March 4 Children was so multi-cultural. One of their slogans, “Parents know the best!”, has also been the motto for many parents I met growing up. But this idea does not hold to scrutiny.
There were parents on both sides with their children there and if parents know the best, then there are two different sets of parents in direct conflict with each other.
Clearly, either they don’t know the best or the best changes. And if the best changes, then it is equally as valid for someone to support kids being able to keep secrets from them as for someone to completely reject any notion of privacy for children.
If that is not the case, then how are they so certain that they know what’s best, not just for their kids but in general, and the people supporting queer and trans rights don’t?
The idea that parents know best is archaic. Not only does it unnecessarily confine children and limit their ability to grow into themselves—their personalities, opinions and thoughts—it also puts parents on a pedestal. It dehumanizes parents.
Assuming that parents must know best means that they don’t have the leeway to make a decision and be wrong, to become better.
I’m not a parent, but I am an adult and one of the things I’ve realized is that all adults are trying their best, making mistakes and learning from them.
The world is a scary place and parents can also be scared.
“Dear Muslim parents, you are understandably worried about your children, but know and understand that the world is not out to get them, nor do queer people actively seek to corrupt children,” Noor write.
Parents are also just people trying to make their way through the world and protect their children. That doesn’t mean that they know everything or that they’re perfect.
What it does mean is that it’s just people living their lives. If they’re put on a pedestal then that means their fall from grace is going to be that much harder and the cost that much more immense.
“Children are not their parents’ property; we must respect their right to decide for themselves and to chart their course in life. Make yourself a safe space,” Noor writes. “Only love can keep families together, not hate.