Two groups with very separate views stood outside North Bay City Hall Wednesday to voice their concerns.
A group supporting the 1 Million March 4 Children, which it states is demonstrating for parental rights and against the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology, and mixed bathrooms in schools, was met at City Hall by a vocal group of pro-2SLGBTQ+ counter-protesters.
Kenny Paulin a North Bay resident was one of the speakers outside City Hall advocating for the 1 Million March 4 Children, a demonstration targeting what organizers describe as "intrusive elements of sexual orientation and gender ideology "within the school systems.
"We are not your enemy," Paulin screamed over his shoulder with a loud speaker referring to the group of counter-protesters closer to the McIntyre Street portion of City Hall.
"We are actually echoing their messages and their message is, 'There is no place for hate,' and we wholeheartedly agree with that," Paulin told BayToday.
"We do not hate gay people, we don't hate trans people, we don't hate anyone. This is about parental rights and it is about the government overstepping its boundaries and it is about indoctrination with a political agenda.
"Today they may be in favour of the government but tomorrow maybe they won't be. Tyranny goes both ways and this is about division."
Paulin feels governments should not play the role of parents.
"Parents should be able to decide what is right for their children," he said.
On the other side, pro-2SLBGTQ+ supporters believe the other side does not understand how important gender ideology education in schools really is.
"This counter-protest is in direct response to the hate that we're receiving — the message that queer people and 2SLGBTQ+ people are corrupting our children, are brainwashing our children," stated Ashley Di Benedetto, New Horizons 2SLGBTQ+/Senior program coordinator with the North Bay AIDS committee.
Seth Compton believes education is so important. Compton operates OUTLoud North Bay which is a place that supports the health and well-being of 2SLGBTQ+ youth — and all youth — in the area.
"I started my transition at 43 years old," Compton shared.
I waited 43 years because I didn't have the education or resources. Right now we have that. With the evolution of the Internet since the early '90s, kids see visibility online — musicians, actors, TV shows, whatever that may look like the information is there for them.
"When I was growing up, I didn't have that. So for me, I show up today to educate others. It's about education. They're spreading misinformation."
North Bay Police were visible at the event as a precaution to ensure the protest and counter-protest did not get violent.
The two sides shared their opinions for over two hours this morning in front of city hall.