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Activism & Action Our Voices Transgender

Teaching Kids Love in a Time of Hate

Collage showing young boy confused by anti-trans hate protestors
Photo collage by pk mutch.

From the Publisher: Feminist entrepreneur Shauna Rae, founder of Radar Media, recently attended a public library hosted drag story time protest in Ingersoll, Ontario and wrote about her experience. 

We republished the article as written to elevate awareness that although trans hate speech is illegal in Canada, these protests, often led by outsiders, continue.  In his post-event letter to the public, Brian Petrie, Mayor of Ingersol thanked the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for working to de-escalate the situation multiple times. Reports  about the event in rural media say adult protesters were flashing white power symbols while holding bibles, and attempted to take over the children’s area.  People’s Party of Canada Oxford County candidate Wendy Martin was one of the protestors, holding a sign that read “Not for Children”, despite the fact that clearly, parents who are bringing their children to storytime think otherwise. 

Find out more below. 

Yesterday, I had a bird’s eye view of a drag storytime protest at a rural southwestern Ontario library.

Let me start by saying, my observation wasn’t from a non-partisan position, I am a supporter of drag storytime and I often stand with Sista Patricia and her Drag Storytime Guardians (DSGs). My observation is also from that of a white, cis, hetero woman, with the privilege, power and comfort that allows. One of the fundamental things I observed was that our rural communities are under attack, not by folks that live, work and play within our own communities but by folks who have come to promote hate in a strategic and calculated way.

I met with the DSGs group and drove in to Ingersoll with them. When we arrived, there were two protestor groups already there.

There was this group below, who held prayer circle both outside and inside the library, many holding these small white signs the fellow on the left is holding below.

Ingersoll Public Library drag queen story time protest, June 11, 2023. Photo by Shauna Rae, Radar Media

Then. There were two fellows, and a couple of their supporters who seemed to be much louder. They were also accompanied by a media person, who you can see filming in the background (below). He’s from a company called Go Teams Media. From their website: “GO Teams Media (GTM) is a gospel outreach media ministry with young adults for conversing and connecting on The 3 Big Questions that matter most. Our GTM anchors and camera crews are equipped to team up with local partner churches to “go” into the field and capture on video meaningful, respectful, and vital community conversations about life and death matters together.”

It seemed very important that they were filmed. And they seemed to be at least friendly with one another.

Unnamed protestor at Ingersol Public Library drag queen story time protest, June 11, 2023. Photo by Shauna Rae, Radar Media

There were a number of police officers there, both inside and outside the library. They actually spoke with this fellow (in the video below), he was being asked to clear the sidewalk so folks could enter the library.ed to be at least friendly with one another.

Each side of the protestors seemed to keep to themselves until I saw this [videotaping] happening . Did this religious group hire/partner with the Go Team Media group (mentioned above)? And are they all working together?

What happened next was, as families were entering the library, so too were the religious folks. Like they’d done at a drag storytime in Parkhill, Ontario, last this month, they tried to take the seats the children were meant to sit in, however, they were asked to vacate them. That did not deter them. They surrounded the area where the Drag Storytime was to be, with signs and bibles in hand. A number of supporters, including myself, held banners to shield the kids from the protestors. There were two police officers inside the drag storytime area at all times. There were terse words shared but no shoving nor physical altercations.

One of the things I went there to witness was, I wanted to see the hate for myself. I made a point of looking directly into the eyes of these folks (the religious folks inside the library), and not one of them would look me in the eye. To me, this meant they had to de-humanize me and any of the supporters, including the children and their parents, in order to carry out the protest.

How is this love or a loving act?

Because I know that I am cis and heterosexual, I was able to rebuff this and not be antagonized. I know that it’s not me they hate. THEY don’t know that but this definitely gives me (and any cis hetero allies) a different perspective and another layer of comfort.

Another observation was the looks on the kids faces as they entered the library, likely the library those kids have been to many times before with their families. I couldn’t shake thinking about what they must be wondering. Why are so many adults here? Why? Why are they angry? Are they angry at US? Their innocent faces will stick with me.

So will the joy in their faces when the Drag Queens arrived (they were just elated), their comments that ‘pink is my favourite colour too!’ and when one Queen asked a little girl about her two-spirit rainbow skirt, the Queen remarked that it was very special to them, as they were two-spirit. The child sprung up with glee and said, “I AM TOO!” Then later during question time, one of the other children asked what two-spirit meant and it was a beautiful teaching moment.

And the stories. The stories the Queens read were beautiful, just like any book a mom, dad, grandma or grandpa may read to their own dear little ones, all of them with the message that it’s okay to be different.

After hearing the stories and witnessing the interactions the Queens had with the kids, I just could not wrap my head around what the big deal is.

But after also witnessing the conversation between the two protestor groups, I’m now wondering what common ground the religious right and the freedom fighters have found? Is it fear of losing control? Is it furthering the Conservative right agenda? What exactly are both groups afraid of?

Because what I know about hate is, it comes from deep rooted fear, and whether it’s a fear of losing control, a fear of being controlled, a fear of what one doesn’t understand or a trigger from a past experience, it’s all based in fear. Whatever the root of that fear is, that’s what’s driving this agenda, not love.

I saw actual love inside that library, in the joyful smiles and excited energy of the kids, when they lit up when seeing the drag queens and listening quietly, filled with glee, to the stories, interacting with these characters in dress up. And I saw the love of the people that showed up to support protecting that joy, some had never supported something before.

There are many more supporters and the numbers are growing. What are we supporting? Ironically, it’s REAL freedom; the freedom to show up as your authentic self in the world, whatever your colour, your gender, your sexuality, your special abilities, all are needed, supported and embraced. And we’re witnessing the pulling apart of systems of oppression that have kept so many pushed down for so long. We are healing together, not in isolation.

And there’s nothing more powerful than that!

Publisher’s note: You can follow more of Shauna Rae’s work here.

Related Reading

Feminist in the City

Leslie Kern’s second book, “Feminist City: A Field Guide,” is a collection of essays that invites readers to question the design of urban spaces and the ways cities can be more inclusive and safe for everyone.

Read More »
Allied Arts & Media Curated

Field Trip App Puts Historical Women on the Map

‘Women on the Map’ is a project of the SPARK movement created from the concern of the invisibility of historical women figures all over the world.

After noticing that from 2010 – 2013 only 17% of Google Doodles around the world honoured women, the not-for-profit company approached Google to fix the problem. Google agreed and the two groups have worked together through the Field Trip App to feature more historical women figures.

Now, when users log into Field App and enable history notifications, their phone will buzz when they are approaching a location where a woman made history and can read about her and her achievements.

What is interesting about SPARK is that they are run by an international team of girls ages 13 to 22. Self described a “girl-fueled, intergenerational activist organization working online to ignite an anti-racist gender justice movement,” SPARK did all the research and work on the 100 women who are currently featured on the app.

Some of the historical figures featured are:

The Arpilleristas in Santiago Chile: A group of women who wove colorful tapestries documenting the turmoil and violence of Pinochet’s regime.

Mary Ellen Pleasant in San Francisco, CA: An activist and abolitionist who, among other things, would dress like a jockey to help slaves escape their plantations.

Mary Anning in Lyme, England: A renowned fossilist who discovered fossils of a Plesiosaurus, rocking the scientific community to its core.

The list is still small but this is only the beginning. SPARK is asking for people to nominate more women and contribute to the database. So if you have notable feminist entrepreneurs from history that you want to see put on the map, check out their website for more information about getting involved and supporting their cause.


Are Nonprofits Getting in the Way of Social Change?

The ability to bring about change is as powerful today as it has ever been.

Through the actions of many people, groups and technologies, transformational social change is within new reach but it is also causing new and very different expectations of nonprofits groups.
In his provokingly titled article for the Stanford Review, Paul Klein explains why nonprofits are losing their monopoly as the most effective agents of social change.
Klein is the President and Founder of Impakt, a Toronto-based corporate social responsibility consultancy. He believes that significant new innovation from nonprofit organizations will not be possible until they begin embrace structural change themselves.

Unless nonprofits evolve, he explains that corporations, B Corps, and social enterprises will eclipse them. Funders have become impatient with the status quo in the nonprofit sector. They are limiting themselves by “slow-moving, institutional, and self-interested business practices” – making significant social change almost impossible.

Funders at all levels expect high performance and as a result are more selective about what nonprofits they support. They want social change organizations to do whatever it takes to get the biggest results at the lowest cost in the shortest period of time. They also want to see more collaborative efforts between companies and countries in setting strong goals, having clear plans, and openly demonstrating progress.

So the big question is, should nonprofits be biased towards putting themselves out of business?

With constraints to agility and innovation, Klein argues that it is time for nonprofits to be less bureaucratic and more responsive to the changing contexts in which they operate. “Funders are expecting significant change from charities,” writes Klein. “Starting with an intention of being much less institutional and much more entrepreneurial.”

Jay Coen Gilbert, cofounder of B-Lab explains that funders want to focus on what works. He outlines some of the changes that would help move organizations toward solving issues faster in a way that funders want to see:

  1. Pay-for-performance: Linking salaries and bonuses to specific social change objectives.
  2. Establishing review process: Looking at the data of all programs to identify initiatives that (a) other organizations would handle better or (b) consider partnerships with the private sector in order to improve performance
  3. Introducing new exit protocol: Major supporters would diminish investment requirements as social change outcomes improve.

Many are still uncertain however of how shifting to a new structural model would fair for the majority of nonprofits. Mission drift, loss of focus on the communities and budget restraints are among the primary concerns. The gap between the capacity of small nonprofits versus large nonprofits raises another important question of how would smaller, local nonprofits benefit from a switch to for profit models.

For the full article and discussion, visit this link.



Is Crowdfunding Leveling The Playing Field For Entrepreneurs?

With access to a computer, creative strategy and hard work, Crowdfunding is proving to be a viable way for founders to access capital and secure early stage investment. Now more entrepreneurs who suffer from limited access to capital and VC networks, can find funding more efficiently and successfully.

This is especially true for entrepreneurs who feel they face discrimination based on who they are or where they come from. A 2014 study from NYU and Wharton reported that women-only teams had a 40% better chance of meeting fundraising goals using crowdfunding.

In a Fast Company article, Ryan Caldbeck, CEO of crowdfunding platform CircleUp, tells writer Lydia Dishman that he doesn’t believe the success of crowdfunding to be gender-specific. He believes that women “are a clearly identifiable group that is benefiting from this transformation, but there are many others, including entrepreneurs in rural areas.”

In the article Dishman speaks to how crowdfunding acts as a buffer to unconscious bias and benefits underserved entrepreneurs. Aside from Caldbeck, Dishman also talks to entrepreneur Bonnie Marcus, author of The Politics of Promotion, and serial entrepreneur Courtney Nichols Gould, cofounder of SmartyPants vitamins, about what it takes outside of a capital campaign to secure growth for your company.

Read the full article here: Is Crowdfunding Leveling the Play Field for Female Entrepreneurs?

Our Voices

If Santa was a woman, could she do the job?

We’re still smiling this Wednesday, albeit a bit nervously. What started as a bit of elfish fun about gender inequality, surfaced a real issue about who and what are shaping our children’s gender perceptions.
London creative agency Anomaly worked on Elle Magazine Uk’s #MoreWomen campaign which highlighted how few women there are in senior positions.

For Christmas they wanted to create more conversation about perceptions of gender. In their 90 second video they asked children “If Santa was a woman, could she do the job?”

The response they received was disturbingly based on bad stereotypes.

The “women can’t drive” stereotype:
“She would get lost in the sky.”

The “women can’t possibly do anything else if they have children” stereotype:
“If she had a baby then she’d be like doing the presents, taking care of the baby, giving it milk…”

And our personal favourite, “the delicate flower” stereotype:
“She would get a headache.”

Save for one boy pointing out that “Girls aren’t any different than boys,” the video concludes by asking what would a lady Santa be good at, which the last child undoubtedly concluded would be “Cooking.”

Terrible right? But there it is. Now the big question is how can we start amending theses stereotypes before a future generation of CEOs, VCs and HR teams are tainted too?

Excuse us while we go re-pen our own wish lists to Santa.

Allied Arts & Media Our Voices


My Vision
by Marni Levitt

Turn off your television
and have a listen:
I was born to realize this,
I have a mission.
Every time I open my eyes
I have a vision:
We get to make the decisions
of how we want
life to be.
The future is not
pre-conceived you see.