Open letter to Chilliwack School Board, Chair Willow Reichelt:
In the past, Trustee Barry Neufeld has disparaged the LGBTQ community, the Asian community and now uses a term that is so hideous, only the most disrespectful and ignorant would consider its use to describe another human being.
I’ve had enough. Mr. Neufeld must apologize and resign. His remarks were made to attempt to devalue and humiliate the staff of the local newspaper. He had a choice of what words he would use for this purpose. This wasn’t a slip of the tongue. This wasn’t a “hot mic” capturing him unawares. This was a deliberate expression, exposing his intolerance and ignorance.
The word he chose is the most derogatory term in existence for a person with an intellectual disability. It is clear that in his world, when wanting to devalue and ridicule the most despicable and worthless among us (in his mind), he chooses to label those people “retarded.”
Imagine you’re a parent of a child with an intellectual disability. You’ve wondered what kind of life they are going to have, what kind of supports are going to be available, and as they approach school-age, you wonder if they’ll be accepted. You know that in times past, children with disabilities were not accepted in schools. You meet with teachers and support staff and realize that there are great teachers and teacher assistants who are committed to ensuring your child is successful.
Now, imagine that parent, or one of the parents of over 2000 students with disabilities in School District 33, picking up the local paper and seeing that a man elected to be a Trustee of the very system you are depending on to support and include your child, has used the very word you live in fear of being used by other children to bully your child. Not only would your heart break, but if nothing were to be done, if the remark was left to stand, you’d be left to wonder if somehow the system you are counting on to support and include your child shares these values.
Clearly, Mr. Neufeld, your values are incompatible with the position of trustee.
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