CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) – The province’s LGBTQ-friendly curriculum is coming under fire from a long-serving Chilliwack school trustee, who describes it as a “weapon of propaganda” pushed by the “LGBTQ lobby”.
“At the risk of being labelled a bigoted homophobe, I have to say that I support traditional family values,” writes Barry Neufeld in a Facebook post.
Editor’s note: Neufeld’s Facebook page has since been set to “private.” Screenshots of his Facebook post can be viewed at the bottom of this article.
At issue is the Ministry of Education’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) program, which was developed after the BC Human Rights Code was updated in 2016 to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.
“Children are being taught that heterosexual marriage is no longer the norm. Teachers must not refer to ‘boys and girls’ they are merely students. They cannot refer to mothers and fathers either,” Neufeld writes.
“If this represents the values of Canadian society, count me out! I belong in a country like Russia, or Paraguay, which recently had the guts to stand up to these radical cultural nihilists.”
Neufeld an “outlier”: education minister
Education Minister Rob Fleming describes Neufeld as an outlier, saying the entire education sector is on board with the curriculum changes, including the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) of which Neufeld is a member. The BCSTA came out in support of SOGI initiatives just last month.
“I’m hopeful that he’ll familiarize himself, if he doesn’t understand the intent of this education, which is to prevent fear and discrimination and harassment in our school system, which I presume Mr Neufeld can agree is vitally important,” Fleming says.
“(Children) need to understand what it is to have a modern, diverse society where people are treated with respect,” he adds.
“It’s unfortunate”: school board chair
Paul McManus, the Chilliwack school board chair, says Neufeld’s opinions are his own and weren’t given as a representative of the board.
“Chilliwack school district is obviously not going to make those kind of statements. Our policies and regulations are consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Human Rights Code etcetera and we’re all about safe schools and positive climate for everybody in our schools and the school community.
“It’s unfortunate that he chose to state those opinions. It’s just unfortunate, it’s problematic.”
McManus isn’t sure if there will be any kind of reprimand for Neufeld, saying he will need to review the board’s code of conduct.
“It all comes down to policies and that sort of thing. We’ll have to discuss it as a board and make that determination.”
He says he’s not aware of anybody else on the board who holds the same opinions as Neufeld.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself”: transgender rights advocate
Morgane Oger, an openly transgender woman who ran for the NDP in the May provincial election, has weighed in, saying Neufeld should be ashamed of himself.
“Given your position in leadership, you should know better than to quote a widely discredited pseudo-science source in order to publish hateful material against a minority group,” Oger has commented on Neufeld’s post.
“There are laws in Canada that thankfully protect people from what you have publicly published in this thread. I recommend you consult legal counsel and ask them to explain sections 7(a) and 7(b) of the BC Human Rights Code to you.”
Neufeld cites a conclusion from the American College of Pediatricians (ACP), which asserts that allowing little children to change gender amounts to child abuse. Not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the ACP has repeatedly been described as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre.
The BC Teachers’ Federation has tweeted about Neufeld, saying “This individual has responsibility to ensure safe, inclusive school environments for students and staff – regardless of his bigoted views.”
This individual has responsibility to ensure safe, inclusive school environments for students and staff – regardless of his bigoted views.
— BCTF (@bctf) October 24, 2017
Click here to read more about the BCTF’s response.
Neufeld has been a Chilliwack school trustee since 1992.