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Canada's Trudeau says US far right is misinforming Muslims on LGBTQ in schools

At mosque in Canada, Justin Trudeau said people on social media are spreading misinformation fuelled by the American right wing
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses a joint press conference in Riga, Latvia, on 10 July 2023 (AFP)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has blamed elements of the US far right for spreading false information about LGTBQ topics in Canadian curriculums, which has misinformed the Muslim community.

Last week, hundreds of people in Canada protested against how gender identity is being taught in schools in Ottawa. Last week Trudeau met with the Muslim community at the Baitun Nur Mosque in Calgary, Canada, where a parent spoke directly with the prime minister.

In a video that has since gone viral, he said: “I ask you, Mr Prime Minister, please protect our beliefs, and our culture as well,” in reference to children being exposed to LGBTQ content in schools.

Trudeau answered by saying that he had heard this concern multiple times and was aware that it is a legitimate issue. He added that there is a lot of misinformation out there.

“People on social media, particularly fuelled by the American right wing, are spreading a lot of untruths about what’s actually in the provincial curriculums,” he said. 

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In June, hundreds of parents and education campaigners in Maryland protested against an abrupt change to the curriculum, which meant they could no longer opt their children out of sexual and gender identity lessons because of their religious beliefs. 

Also in June, a nearly two-minute-long audio recording circulated on social media of a school teacher in Edmonton allegedly berating a Muslim student for skipping school to avoid attending pride-themed events. 

“It goes two ways. If you want to be respected for who you are, if you don’t want to suffer prejudice for your religion, your colour of skin or whatever, then you better give it back to people who are different from you. That’s how it works,” the teacher said.

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The teacher continued and said that if the student didn’t believe in LBGTQ rights, then “you can’t be Canadian. You don’t belong here”.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims said that the teacher was engaging in “deeply Islamophobic, inappropriate and harassing behaviour”. 

At the mosque meeting last week, a man brought up the incident - to which Trudeau responded that the teacher got serious consequences because “that is not something that is acceptable”.

Trudeau explained that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is something that gives Canadians freedom of religion.

“It allows you to fully participate in a society that gives you all the protections and protects all minorities as well. It’s not a buffet. You can get the protections you want out of the charter and leave aside the others. Standing up for people’s rights means standing up for everybody’s rights.”

He added that the school curriculum is not “aggressive” in teaching kids about LGBTQ issues.

“That is something that is being weaponised by people who are not doing it because of their interest in supporting the Muslim community, but these are people in the far right who have consistently stood against Muslim rights and the Muslim community. They are weaponising the issue of LGBT."

“I will stand up for the rights of LGBT kids, including if they’re LGBT Muslim kids.”

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