Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld has issued an apology to people who may have felt “unworthy or unsafe” from his recent comments on Facebook.
He read out the apology during a board of education public meeting held via Zoom webinar, on June 16. In it, he said he’s spent the last few weeks “researching, reading and heart searching.”
While Neufeld has a habit of sharing his inner thoughts on LGBTQ issues, SOGI 123 learning materials and other hot-button issues on Facebook, his most recent post lambasted Canadian public health physician Dr. Theresa Tam. He suggested she is transgender, and as such, shouldn’t be trusted.
“I have come to realize that some of my very strong remarks were experienced as hurtful by some students and perhaps staff, most notably those who suffer from gender dysphora or who identify as transgender,” he stated at the June 15 meeting. “I’m deeply sorry if any of my remarks caused any of you to feel unworthy or unsafe.”
This is the second time he’s apologized for the post. The first time was on May 12, again during a board meeting. That apology was brief, one sentence, and he said more would be coming “in the near future.”
At the following meeting on May 26, the board censured Neufeld for the Facebook post. During his most recent apology, he brought up past conflict created when he spoke out against the SOGI 123 learning resource.
“While I remain opposed to some of the materials of the SOGI 123 learning resource, I value and appreciate all students as persons worthy of appreciation and dignity,” Neufeld stated, adding that he hoped to have discussions regarding pros and cons of the provincially mandated resource.
“Unfortunately, those discussions have not resulted in productive or meaningful dialogue, as made evidence by the recent vote that I be censured,” he said. “My strong views have not only alienated from the LGBTQ-plus students and staff me but also created conflict between educational partners and the school district. This was never my intent.”
He added that he hoped the district’s education partners will reach out to him “so that we can begin working towards a relationship of mutual respect.”
Neufeld has not responded to this news outlet’s multiple requests to discuss these issues.
And Neufeld is once again facing backlash, this time for denying his white privilege. He is back on Facebook, and recently created a post arguing that because he is of both Irish and Ukranian descent, there is “no white privilege here!”
“Ukrainians were called the ‘bohunks of Central Europe’ and were rounded up by the Canadian Government and put in concentration camps to perform slave labor during WW 1. And the Irish were the First Slaves shipped to North America,” he wrote.
A petition has been created on change.org to ask the provincial government to rewrite the School Act to include a binding Code of Conduct for trustees, giving the Ministry of Education the ability to remove individual trustees.
The petition cites the Dr. Tam post and the white privilege post as reasons for the petition.
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