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Anti-SOGI rally and counter-rally in the Fraser Valley tonight

Last Updated Nov 21, 2017 at 7:41 am PDT

FILE - The Chilliwack school board trustee Barry Neufeld. (Photo courtesy Barry Neufeld, via Facebook)

CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) – A school trustee from Chilliwack who has criticized curriculum meant to support LGBTQ students is back in the spotlight. A rally backed by Montreal-based CultureGuard will be held tonight to thank Barry Neufeld for his views.

But a counter-demonstration has also been planned in the Fraser Valley, which organizers are calling a stand against hatred and disinformation.

“We are rallying in support of parents throughout the Valley,” says Stacey Wakelin with BC Parents for Inclusivity. “There have been a lot of comments made by Mr. Neufeld and other groups and we are just speaking out in support of parents with LGBTQ kids and in support of the SOGI 123 initiative.”

SOGI 123 — or Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity — is the provincially mandated, anti-bullying curriculum meant to support marginalized LGBTQ students. Last month, Neufeld posted comments on on Facebook (see below article) criticizing the initiative, but later apologized.

“It was a nice gesture, I guess. But having now seen Mr. Neufeld speaking alongside the leader of the Culture Guard and also sitting with members of that group at an Abbotsford School Board meeting, it feels like a hollow gesture,” Wakelin tells NEWS 1130.

Culture Guard bills itself as a protector of children’s and parental rights.

“As a result of Trustee Neufeld’s, and others’, willingness to speak out, opposition to SOGI 123 is growing rapidly, as educational stakeholders are increasingly becoming aware of how this abusive political agenda is gripping BC schools,” the group says in a release.

Related articles:

Chilliwack school trustee apologizes after controversial Facebook post

Chilliwack trustee should step down after post about LGBTQ-friendly curriculum, says BCTF president

Chilliwack school trustee blasts LGBTQ-friendly school curriculum

Culture Guard’s rally in Chilliwack in support of Neufeld will be attended by the chair of the Trans Alliance, Morgane Oger.

“Not in support of Mr. Neufeld but to actually hear what they are saying [and] make sure it is truthful. Hopefully, I won’t have to stand up and correct misinformation,” Oger explains. “I think it’s very important that people not spread lies and misinformation and I look forward to the truth coming to the surface no matter what people say.”

The activist and one-time provincial NDP candidate says it is unfortunate people are rallying by Neufeld’s side in a “misconceived belief” that they are on the side of free speech.

“This man is responsible for making decisions that affect transgender children and the statements he made are contrary not only to factual understanding of what being transgendered is but also contrary to his job as a trustee,” Oger tells NEWS 1130. “The laws of British Columbia include protecting trans children from people who say things like he did.”

The pro-Neufeld rally starts at 7 p.m. at the Evergreen Community Centre in Chilliwack.

Wakelin says the pro-SOGI rally will start at 5 p.m. outside the Abbotsford School District office.

“There are a lot of of parents with non gender conforming children who feel that their children’s right to safety and being respected at their school is being jeopardized by groups like the Culture Guard and trustees like Barry Neufeld. We are just offering a different voice, speaking out with love and support for inclusive education,” says Wakelin.

Screengrab of Barry Neufeld’s Facebook comments. Neufeld’s Facebook page has since been made private.
Screengrab of Barry Neufeld’s Facebook comments. Neufeld’s Facebook page has since been made private.