Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's office is tight-lipped over a photo of one of his Opposition critics posing with two people wearing slogans against measures addressing sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

The image, shared to social media, surfaced not long after Poilievre distanced himself from another photo in which he stood next to a man wearing a T-shirt referring to "straight pride."

The latest photo shows Calgary MP Jasraj Singh Hallan, the Conservative finance critic, standing with three other men during a pancake breakfast that was open to the public last week as part of the Calgary Stampede.

Two of the men are wearing white T-shirts with black letters that read "leave our kids alone." The shirts also show a smaller, stylized image of a family beneath an umbrella sheltering them from the rainbow of colours associated with LGBTQ Pride flags.

The offices of Poilievre and Hallan, who represents the riding of Calgary Forest Lawn, did not respond to requests for comment on the photo or whether he agrees with the message on the T-shirts.

One of the men in the photo, Mahmoud Mourra, has been protesting school policies and activities that acknowledge students' sexual orientation and gender identity.

Mourra, who shared the photo on social media, is also facing a charge of hate-motivated criminal harassment. Calgary police say it stems from allegations related to "multiple online interactions" on June 26.

Police say Mourra was charged July 3 and his next court date is in August.

In a telephone interview on Friday, Mourra called the charge against him a "joke," saying it originated from a dispute with someone he knows.

Poilievre's office, Calgary MP silent over latest photo with controversial message. #CDNPoli

He said he did not think anything of his T-shirt when he posed for a photo with Hallan, whom he called a friend. Mourra said the two did not discuss his views on teaching sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, and he did not inform the MP of the charge he is facing.

"It wasn't like, intentionally … I never even thought about it until I saw what happened with Danielle Smith," he told The Canadian Press.

He was referring to a recent photo of the Alberta premier standing with a man wearing a "straight pride" shirt. Her office has since said she does not endorse the message, which Poilievre also recently told reporters he does not agree with.

When it comes to the LGBTQ community, Mourra said he is concerned with teachers pushing what he called "this agenda" on children."

"I believe I have the chance to determine or to decide how my kids should be growing up … I'm not teaching them any hate."

A recent incident in Edmonton sparked protests in Alberta over sexual orientation and gender identity education in schools after a teacher lectured a Muslim student about skipping pride events. The teacher told the student they "can't be Canadian" and "don't belong here" if they didn't believe in LGBTQ rights.

At a recent community event in Calgary, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said much of the discord is fuelled by misinformation, particularly from "the American right wing," about what is actually in provincial school curriculums.

"They are weaponizing the issue of LGBT," Trudeau said during a chat with some Muslim parents at the event, which was recorded and shared over social media.

"They're using those fears to drive a wedge."

He told the small group of parents that the federal government is unequivocal in standing up for everybody's rights and freedoms, including the Muslim community and LGBTQ+ youth.

Besides his high-profile role as an Opposition critic, Hallan is also one of the Conservative MPs involved in outreach to the immigrant and newcomer communities where the party hopes to grow support for the next election.

Mourra, a Muslim father of five, said many of his values align with the Conservatives. He said he believes the federal party supports the message he is championing based on Poilievre's recent comments about a policy in New Brunswick.

The province's Progressive Conservative Premier, Blaine Higgs, stirred controversy by changing a policy so that teachers would no longer be required to use the preferred pronouns of transgender or nonbinary students under 16.

Instead, a teacher would need to obtain parental consent to use those pronouns. The Higgs government says if that is not possible, a student would be referred to a school psychologist or social worker to develop a plan to inform their parent "if and when they are ready to do so."

When asked about the move, Poilievre took aim at Trudeau's decision to speak out against the matter, saying it is none of his business.

"Butt out and let provinces run schools and let parents raise kids," Poilievre told reporters last month.

Proponents of the policy say it is crucial that teachers help ensure kids who are queer or questioning their identity feel safe from discrimination, which experts say can lead to suicide attempts.

They say inclusive policies should state that all individuals have a right to be addressed by their chosen name and pronouns, and include resources teachers can use.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2023.

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The traditional belief that religion should be the final arbiter on matters of sexual identity continues to haunt us. Sexual diversity is real.........but some of that diversity needs to be demonized for patriarchal religions to continue exerting control over human sexual expression.

What I've found mysterious all my life is what motivates anyone to want to legislate consensual activities of other people?? It doesn't seem to have done anything to prevent sex abuse....which is what authorities should concentrate on minimizing. When I grew up homosexuality was a secret I didn't learn about until my mid teens....and that was in a magazine article I barely comprehended. Nor did we talk about what really happened to young girls who became pregnant.

No. They didn't go to help out with an ailing grandma. They went to a Catholic establishment where they had their babies and came home without them shamed, and for the most part, silent.

Sex Education in schools is essential....anyone who imagines it is advocating particular tendencies or acts is nuts. Period. I taught a couple of sessions when a high school English teacher, and we spent more time on budgeting for independent living than we did on the particulars of any sexual preference. We taught respect for partners, safety and hygiene, birth control information, etc. I think now there is more time spent acknowledging gay issues....and hopefully, teachers still listen as well as dish out advice.

But anyone stirring up BS about teachers advocating certain lifestyles is either paranoid or deliberately stirring some pot of hetero entitlement. One doesn't convert to a sexual lifestyle as one might to a religion or political ideology....

And you have to wonder about the sexual reality of folks who think that's even possible. Perhaps growing up in rigid homes where sexuality is a forbidden topic leads to weird fantasies....I'd suggest people do a bit of reading, and tell politicians like PP to butt out when he advocates privatizing the topic.

Our public education system was created to augment parental knowledge......and oftentimes, make up for what individual parents lack in expertise. Butting out of human sexuality is as dumb as suggesting public officials butt out of a good math curriculum. But unfortunately, we've had conservative parents pushing for that as well.

As we used to say when I taught, "If you think Education is Expensive, try Ignorance. Or try encouraging ignorance by supporting dog whistling will solve nothing, but perhaps lead to a few fun dustups before the coming joys of Armageddon.

Anyone who claims that the obvious parallels between GOP culture war craziness and the CPC are a bridge too far only needs to see the recent Calgary Stampede t-shirt pics of P.P., Danielle Smith, and the infamous "Straight Pride" guy. And now this photo of the CPC Calgary Forest Lawn MP and FInance Critic taken with two men wearing "Leave Our Kids Alone" T-shirts bearing of course the requisite Canadian flags to make sure everyone knows they are "patriots". So "mum is the word" from the Calgary CPC MP's office and ditto for the man leading the polls to become our next PM. Wake up Canada. This is the mere tip of the iceberg of a multitude of bad decision making on a whole host of policies and subjects that will be inflicted upon Canadians should the CPC grab the reins of power. The CPC convoy cozy up was apparently not enough to raise a red flag? Short memories, willfully blind, JustInflation, whatever the reason - this is where we as Canadians are heading unless we head it off, by exposing it for what it is.

Excellent comments by Mary and Michael on an exemplary piece.

The anti- LGBTQ movement is plainly based on fear. But fear of what? Becoming gay by association? Of "radicals" taking over society leaving the patriarchy (supported by the matriarchy in the congregations of many churches) without control? Of their own diverse sexuality?

God forbid how their gay kids will be treated at home. These kids will be radicalized not by being gay, but by the ostracization, ridicule and, in some cases, beatings by their own loved ones.

Forest Lawn is a working class neighbourhood that would probably vote NDP in other cities. It has an MP who will deny any bigoted leanings despite photographic evidence of hanging out with openly anti-LGBTQ folks.

We have a Charter of Rights for a reason. The Charter did not exist when I was growing up in Calgary which in the 70s had a vibrant semi-underground gay culture. Several of my old Calgary friends and relatives are gay. I can't name even one who didn't move elsewhere and made a living then retired in other provinces.

That's Calgary's loss.