About three hundred people attended the March for Hope and Love in support of the LGBTQ community on Saturday.
The march was organized by River of Pride in response to growing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, demonstrated by anti-LGBTQ protests held across the country on September 20th.
“Today we’re here to send the message that there is hope and love the the 2SLGBTQIA community and just show them that you are welcome you are loved,” River of Pride vice-president Justin Durette said.
Organizers and participants expressed concerns with the recent changes to Policy 713.
In June, the New Brunswick government made controversial changes to a policy governing name and pronoun changes for students under the age of 16, to require parental consent.
Teachers and advocates have criticized the changes, saying it can endanger vulnerable youth who may not want their parents to know about their gender identity.
Alex Harris, a trans man attending high school in Moncton, said he was concerned for trans students who had to contend with the Policy 713 changes.
“I’m really worried for the students coming into high school after me because they don’t have the same support I had when I was coming out,” he said at the march.
“So I’m (marching) to show them they are supported and Moncton and Canada supports you.”
After the crowd had marched from Heritage Place to City Hall, attendees like Greg Daborn took turns speaking to the crowd.
Daborn spoke about how the homophobic bullying he endured attending school in Moncton in the late 70s and early 80s impacted his grades at the time.
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“My academic standing went from marks in the high nineties to marks in the sixties before Christmas of my grade 7 year,” he said of the year the name calling started.
Daborn is concerned about the impact the changes to Policy 713 can have on students and their learning.
“Hate and intolerance is a hindrance to everybody’s education for everybody involved. Everybody’s losing right now,” he said.
“We need to get back to math and science because those are the things that are important. But nobody can focus on math and science because they’re focused on their differences.”
Daborn said he wrote to Premier Blaine Higgs as well as several other New Brunswick politicians, sharing his story, when he first heard about Policy 713.
He said he had mixed emotions seeing young members of the LGBTQ community advocating for themselves at the march.
“It’s a double-edged sword for me because I don’t think they should have to be doing this,” he said.
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