A former teacher with a history of opposition to gay-straight alliance clubs in school is running for the Chilliwack school board.
Retired teacher Erma Vietorisz announced her candidacy for trustee in a message to The Progress on Monday.
She is the sixth person who has announced a candidacy for the Chilliwack school board election, which will take place on Oct. 20.
“I’ve had many years of experience as a teacher in the B.C. public school system, and it’s time for me to put that experience to good use,” the 68-year-old Vietorisz wrote. “I think I have a lot to offer and it would be an honour to serve the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of Chilliwack School District 33.”
Vietorisz says she has a bachelor of education degree and a master’s degree in arts, in addition to 37 years of experience in the field of education “with a lengthy career in helping students with learning difficulties.”
She added that she has a keen interest in helping all students succeed, and she has particular areas of expertise in helping students acquire literacy skills and to deal with emotional issues.
Vietorisz served as chair of several school-based teams for many years, and worked with teachers, parents, paraprofessionals and administrators to find solutions to difficult problems.
She also represented teachers at the local level of the B.C. Teachers Federation for many years, and hopes to help build a positive relationship between parents and teachers and the board.
“In addition, [I] wants to make Chilliwack’s voice heard in the next round of negotiations between the BCTF and BCPSEA when the present Collective Agreement comes to an end in June 2019.”
While a teacher, Vietorisz was quoted in a Canadian Press story posted on the Globe and Mail website 18 years ago as a spokesperson for the “Coalition for the Protection of Parental Rights” that organized a rally against a proposal by the BCTF to support gay-straight alliance clubs, which are usually set up to help protect LGBT students from bullying.
“The BCTF is being used by a special-interest group for political and social engineering,” Vietorisz is quoted as saying.
In response to that, BCTF president at the time David Chudnovsky said he was surprised at the “sensationalist” coverage in the media by what he called “a small number of people who” opposed to the clubs.
Chudnovsky compared gay-straight alliance clubs to anti-racism programs in schools.
The issue of bullying and LGBT rights in schools has been a subject of considerable coverage in recent months, mostly due to the opposition by Trustee Barry Neufeld to the Ministry of Education’s SOGI 123 anti-bullying teaching materials.
Vietorisz has also spent time doing missionary work in South America with other members of the Chilliwack Alliance Church, according to a 2014 blog post.
And two years ago she self-published a 30-page book available for sale on Amazon.ca entitled Erma’s Marriage Handbook: A Handy Resource For Building a Happy Marriage.