CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) – The outgoing chair of the Chilliwack school board has a message for anti-SOGI trustee candidates running in the municipal election: You won’t be welcome in local schools.
The anti-bullying resource is becoming increasingly divisive in the community.
The tool is meant to create more understanding about LGBTQ students. Paul McManus says five of the 17 people running for trustee in Chilliwack have come out against it.
“We have the challenge of many of our schools not being comfortable with trustees with that mindset coming to visit schools,” said McManus.
The issue over SOGI 1 2 3 began a year ago when trustee Barry Neufeld publicly opposed it, eventually leading to a human rights complaint.
Neufeld agreed to step back from some of his duties. He no longer attend schools after administrators told the board he wasn’t welcome anymore, as his presence was making some students and teachers uncomfortable.
“I just don’t understand how these candidate think they’ll be welcome in schools after the election, should they be successful.”
McManus says new Chilliwack trustees with similar sentiments should take note.
He also feels there need to be more parents on the school board. “Parents of school-aged kids. I think it’s important for the board to have that perspective… It’s difficult to get that demographic on the board because people are working and they’re busy. It’s a very hectic time, as I’ve experienced myself.”
McManus feels a lack of parents on the board means they are lacking a key perspective — one he thinks has been absent for the last four boards.
As someone who is not seeking re-election, McManus says he felt it was important to share his message before he left the board.
“I think it’s important that people get out and vote. In order to motivate, sometimes, you need to get the messages out there that maybe they don’t understand, aren’t aware of, or what have you. It’s a critical time for our district and a critical time for our province, with some of these mixed messages and misinformation that’s out there.”