Chilliwack school board trustee Barry Neufeld is vowing to remain in his job and “be a lonely voice for impressionable children” after a human rights complaint was filed against him and the province’s education minister called for his resignation after he condemned the sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum.
Neufeld questioned the so-called SOGI 123 curriculum which teaches that gender is fluid, that there is more than two genders, and that gender is not based in biology. He said last year that “allowing children (to) choose gender is nothing short of child abuse.” Neufeld, a former corrections officer who has served as a trustee from 1992 to 2008 and again since 2011, said that the province’s sucessive Liberal and NDP governments were foisting a radical sex ed curriculum on schools, students, teachers, and parents for ideological purposes. He argued that gender theory could confuse and harm “impressionably children” that could lead young students to question their own identity where no doubt had previously existed.
A local union, CUPE 411, which represents 800 board staff, filed a human rights complaint against Neufeld, saying his stance is a threat to staff who self-identify as homosexual or transgender.
In December and early January, the Chilliwack School Board, Chilliwack Teachers’ Association, and Chilliwack District Parents Advisory Council called for Neufeld to resign from the trustee position to which he was re-elected last fall. On Jan. 19, B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming called on Neufeld to resign. In a statement, Fleming said he does not have the authority under B.C.’s School Act to dismiss the trustee but was nonetheless asking him to step down. “While individuals are entitled to their opinions, Mr. Neufeld has jeopardized student safety, divided his school community and acted against board and ministry policies,” Fleming said.
Neufeld released a statement insisting he did nothing wrong and taking issue with the complaints against him. Neufeld said the charge he opposes changes in the B.C. Human Rights Code to include gender identity and expression as protected ground were false nor had he said anything contrary to the Code. He said “all students … regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or other group identity” deserve “an excellent education.” He added that all students “deserve a safe environment.” He affirmed that he has “taken issue” with SOGI 123’s teaching of gender theory and argued he had to remain on the board “to be a lonely voice” for children who “I believe will be confused and harmed,” by the promotion of transgender theories. “It is my duty as an elected school board official to speak up when the best interests of children may be compromised.”
Rod Taylor, leader of the Christian Heritage Party, called Neufeld “the lastest victim of the LGBQT ‘smear and silence’ campaign” against anywhere with “the temerity” to question their agenda, specifically SOGI 123 in British Columbia. Noting that gay activists shouted down debate at a Chilliwack school board meeting in protest against Neufeld and that the board has banned the trustee from some school facilities and functions, Taylor said the campaign “is just one more example of tyranny, deception, and despotism within a system crumbling from the inside.”
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom announced on Jan. 22 it was representing Neufeld in the human rights complaint.