Windsor parents, students and allies gathered in front of NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky’s office to protest against the local public school board’s controversial gender policy and its recent decision to ban parents from meetings.

The Greater Essex County District School Board’s (GECDSB) currently allows children to change their gender or pronouns at school without the knowledge or consent of their parents. It also opted to temporarily ban the public from board of trustees meetings in June amid outrage over the policy which is informed by gender ideology. 

Monday’s protest was organized by the group Parents for Parent’s Rights. It was attended by about 150 people. They held signs that read “no secrets,” “leave our kids alone” and “let kids be kids.”

The group’s co-founder Elton Robinson says he decided to hold a protest in front of Gretzky’s office amid her ignoring a request to discuss his concerns.

“She is my MPP,” Robinson told the Windsor Star. “There is a centre to all of this, but if you don’t talk with people, you’re never going to find that centre.”

Parents for Parents’ Rights describes itself on its website as a group which “believes that the parents and guardians are the most important educators and first role models of their children.”

“We promote the importance of respecting family values and beliefs – emphasizing communication, mutual support and transparency between parents and schools. This partnership will encourage a positive environment for their child’s education.”

They oppose gender ideology, pornographic books in school libraries and schools hiding information about gender identity from parents. 

Also present at Gretzky’s office were trans activist counter protesters. They claim that schools can be a safe place for gender dysphoric kids.

“I think it’s important that we make a visible stand that isn’t just shouting the same things back and forth,” pro-trans counter-protester Bonnie Stewart told the Star. “Rather, we’re talking to the general public, most of whom recognize that we have been fighting the same stereotypes and harmful stuff about queer people for 30 years.”

However, Robinson says he and his group are not opposed to LGBTQ people. 

“I don’t like the idea of another adult telling my child it’s okay to keep a secret,” he previously told the Star .

“I believe in full human rights. I know people want to call us homophobes — that’s not what it’s about,” he added. “If a parent wants their kid to change their gender or change their pronouns, that’s fine. The issue is the parents should be aware of that happening.”

Robinson would like Ontario to adopt a policy like New Brunswick’s revised Policy 713  – which requires parental consent for children under the age of 16 to officially change their gender or pronouns at school. 

In response to the protest at her office, Gretzky boasted about the Ontario NDP’s queer and trans activism in a statement to the Star.

“I’m proud to be part of an official opposition that is working to protect and advance queer and trans rights in Ontario,” she said.

Gretzky also said she encourages the GECDSB to have “constructive, respectful conversations” about how to make schools safe places for all students and on “how to reopen school board meetings to the public in a safe and mutually respectful way.”

“Schools should be safe, welcoming places where every student can be themselves and focus on learning. Hate and discrimination is not acceptable in any form, in any place, whether in the community or in schools.”

Gretzky’s office was locked during the protest.

GECDSB trustees have voiced support for the gender policy amid critics saying it keeps secrets from parents. One trustee also claimed in a CBC interview only a “vocal minority” of parents oppose its gender identity policy. However, polling suggests otherwise. 

A Leger poll commissioned by found that 56% of Ontarians believe parents should be notified if their child wants to change their gender or pronouns at school. Just 19% said the school should not let parents know. 

Nationally, opposition to parental gatekeeping was higher among parents than among non-parents.