CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) – A Chilliwack school trustee who blasted the province’s LGBTQ-friendly school curriculum is facing pressure to resign, but Barry Neufeld says he is not quitting, yet.
Neufeld, who has been a trustee for 20 years, says the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) program forces all children to question their gender identity. On social media, he’s described it as “nothing short of child abuse.”
“I wouldn’t reject all of it, but I think when it goes into gender-bending theory that that is confusing to kids. It’s not necessary for them to dwell on that,” Neufeld says.
“I think it goes beyond just being an anti-bullying program into a propaganda tool.”
His comments have attracted condemnation from transgender rights advocates and the BC Teachers’ Federation.
Education Minister Rob Fleming says Neufeld’s claims are outdated and bigoted.
“In order to remove fear and intimidation and harassment and a bullying culture in our school system SOGI 123 is essential and all the reviews on this curriculum are positive but for a few voices, like his, and we’ll be continuing in this effort.”
Fleming isn’t asking Neufeld to resign, but Chilliwack School District board chair Paul McManus says fellow trustees must now decide how to respond to Neufeld’s Facebook comments, which don’t reflect the opinions of his fellow trustees.
“We as a board have to kind of determine… next steps on how we deal with it, because it’s a conversation we have to have.”
The Board is holding a special meeting this week.
In a statement, the President of the BC School Trustees Association, Gordon Swan, says the BCSTA does not support or agree with Neufeld’s position.
“Our Association strongly believes that schools need to be safe and welcoming places for ALL students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or background. It is important that we all stand up and defend our students and our staff against any incidents of prejudice, bullying or discrimination.”
Neufeld says he probably won’t seek re-election next year because he doesn’t feel he belongs in an organization that promotes something he doesn’t agree with.
“I do feel that I’m speaking up for the silent majority.”
His Facebook page is no longer accessible to the public.