CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) – A long-serving Chilliwack school trustee has issued an apology of sorts for a controversial Facebook post about LGBTQ curriculum.
“My post on Facebook has created a lot of controversy and first of all, I want to apologize to those who felt hurt by my opinion, including members of the Chilliwack Board of Education,” Barry Neufeld says in a statement. “I believe that in a free and democratic society, there should be room for respectful discussion and dissent.”
Neufeld’s apology follows huge public outcry and calls for him to step down or be removed the board.
The trustee had criticized the province’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) program, and described it as a “weapon of propaganda.”
The Chilliwack School District has released a statement of their own following an emergency board meeting. In part it says Neufeld’s comments were his own personal opinion, and don’t reflect the Chilliwack Board of Education’s views.
“They wanted to reassure our community and our parents and our students that our schools are safe and welcoming places for all students,” says Superintendent Evelyn Novak. “There were some folks that are supporting Trustee Neufeld and there are also many parents and community far-reaching, that found his Facebook page distasteful to say the least.”
Novak says there are no plans to remove Neufeld from the board. “The board is going to continue to work with Trustee Neufeld on the board and the board is going to try to move forward from this situation.”
Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness has also come to Neufeld’s defense on Twitter, calling him a good man who deserves to be treated with respect.
Trustee Barry Neufeld is a good man, loves children, would never countenance bullying. He deserves to be treated with respect and kindness.
— Laurie Throness (@LaurieThroness) October 25, 2017
SOGI was developed after the BC Human Rights Code was updated in 2016 to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.