Skip to content

Protesters, LGBTQ supporters clash over children’s storytelling event

Minor incidents happened but cooler heads intervened.

SASKATOON — Tension rose between supporters of two opposing groups after several of their members were involved in a minor scuffle outside the Nutrien Wonderhub Sunday afternoon.

On one side was a group protesting a storytelling event for toddlers and young children organized by YXE Drag Collective, while on the other were members and supporters of the LGBTQ community in the city.

There was an incident where a woman who was part of the group protesting the event allegedly pulled out bear mace. The protesters also accused LGBTQ supporters of allegedly grabbing and taking away their signs.

Members of the Saskatoon Police Service were later seen talking to representatives of both groups, possibly requesting them to keep things peaceful and control their ranks.

Members of the YXE Drag Collective read books like Julian is a Mermaid, Mary Wears What She Wants, A Little Bit Different, I Love My Colourful Nails, My Princess Boy, and Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress as part of the Culture Days storytelling event.

A concerned mother, who works as a childhood developmental trauma counsellor and asked that her name be withheld, said she was deeply disturbed by the event, being a mother and a teacher.

“But those books are on a certain subject and the way they are being presented is not appropriate for children below 12 years of age. The way their [children’s] brains develop and how they are social and emotional development happens that is not appropriate,” she said.

“Because children below the age of 12 are very impressionable and whatever happens in their environment, they soak it up like sponges. What I think these events do, is they don’t only portray women in a very degrading way, I’m a woman and a mother, I don’t look like them.”

Amanda Hawkins, a two-spirit person, said that she thinks the protesters are feeling that the event is sexualizing the children, which she calledludicrous, adding that drag is a performing art.

“It’s not perverse in any way. It’s some people dressed up in fabulous makeup and outfits reading age-appropriate literature to children on inclusivity, self-acceptance and love. I honestly do not know what they are mad about,” said Hawkins.

“I feel they just do not understand what it means to be doing drag and they think that exposing children to gender-diverse people is grooming them. What are most movies and cultures? It’s straight. So, why are there no little queer babies? When do people become gay?”

She added that if culture influences everyone, then all would be straight and pointed to an example such as Disney movies. “Is there a Disney movie where there are two queer leading roles? That argument makes no sense.”

Another protester, who also requested not to be named, said that he was intimidated and even had a pushing match with some of the LGBTQ supporters.

“I was surrounded by them and they would not let me move forward. They were pushing me back and I had to push back to defend myself. These are very aggressive and antagonistic people. They want to get us into some kind of a fight,” he said.

Rob, who is part of the protest group, said that they were simply trying to also express their right to freedom of speech.

“We’re protesting the fact that they are having drag queen story time, male strippers, men dressed as women. Sexualizing our children and it is absolutely absurd that in this day and age that this thing is allowed to go on,” said Rob.

“This is happening in many places, not just here. This is happening all over North America. I will say it again, ‘why do adults want to sexualize these kids?’ They won’t answer that. When I ever call it pedophilia, they don’t seem to have a problem. They don’t seem to have a problem with pedophilia.”

Trish Harper, who is a social worker, came to show her support for the LGBTQ community saying that everyone must feel a sense of belongingness and no one should feel that they are alone.

“That’s why I disagree with groups that come to spread divisive messages and messages of hate. I just totally disagree with that. I wanted to make sure that everybody in our Saskatoon community feels supported no matter what your sexual orientation or identity is,” Harper said.

“We’re all human. That’s why I feel it’s important for us to be visible and make sure that the messages of love, acceptance and belongingness are countering the messages of hate that are getting louder.”