Chilliwack trustee issues apology for Facebook comments

Neufeld says he does believe in inclusion, board further distances themselves from his opinions

Embattled Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld has issued an apology for comments he made on Monday.

The apology came on Wednesday morning, after an emergency, in-camera meeting of the board on Tuesday evening, and was sent to the district’s trustees, superintendents, secretary-treasurer and members of the media, including The Chilliwack Progress.

He wrote:

“My post on Facebook has created a lot of controversy and first of all, I want to apologize to those who felt hurt by my opinion, including members of the Chilliwack Board of Education. I am critical of an educational resource, not individuals. Those who have worked with me for over 24 years know that I DO believe in inclusion and a safe learning environment for all of our students: that they should be protected from all forms of bullying and intimidation.

I believe that in a free and democratic society, there should be room for respectful discussion and dissent. I firmly believe that implementation of the SOGI 1 2 3 resources needs to be reviewed by engaging parents and teachers in conversation on this topic before full implementation.”

Board chair Paul McManus confirmed that the Tuesday evening meeting was meant to come to a consensus on how to move forward after Neufeld announced his strong opposition to what he’s called “child abuse.”

A Chilliwack school trustee for about 20 years in School District 33, Neufeld posted on Facebook that he would rather live in Russia or Paraguay, “which recently had the guts to stand up to these radical cultural nihilists.”

He was referring to the policy known as SOGI, or sexual orientation and gender identity. He cited a group known for being against the rights of the gay community, the American College of Pediatrics, posted an internet meme making fun of gender identity, and blamed the Liberal government for creating “a weapon of propaganda” and embracing “the LGBTQ lobby and … forcing this biologically absurd theory on children in our schools.”

The comments elicited strong reactions, both from his supporters and those who oppose his ideas. The District and the Board both distanced themselves from Neufeld on Tuesday, as did the BC School Trustee’s Association, and the District Parent Advisory Council.

READ: Chilliwack trustee calls LGBTQ school program ‘weapon of propaganda’

President of the Chilliwack Teacher’s Association (CTA), Lee-Anne Clarke, said that Neufeld’s public statement was an attack on teachers.

“It’s very hurtful,” she said. “It’s hurtful to our LGBTQ community, it’s hurtful to our teachers, some of them who are part of the LGBTQ community. And this undermines the professionalism of my members. It undervalues all the work we’ve done to make things better for everyone, to make school more safe for everyone, to make it more inclusive and to be more accepting of differences.”

Also on Wednesday, Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness spoke in support of Neufeld, through Twitter.

“Trustee Barry Neufeld is a good man, loves children, would never countenance bullying. He deserves to be treated with respect and kindness,” he wrote.

Following Neufeld’s apology letter, the board issued an official statement.

“The comments of Trustee Barry Neufeld on his Facebook page were his own personal opinions and do not reflect the views of the Chilliwack Board of Education,” they wrote.

“The Board of Education strongly believes that its schools need to be safe and welcoming places for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or background, and that all students deserve to be welcomed, included and respected in a safe learning environment while being fully and completely themselves.

“In October 2016, the Board of Education approved changes to its Safe Schools Policy ensuring that the legislative requirements with reference to the BC Charter of Human Rights and Freedom and the BC Human Rights Code are followed, so that all students are supported in their learning in inclusive environments, free of bullying and harassment.”

The letter was signed by Paul McManus, Board of Education Chairperson.

Media Release October 2017 by Jess Peters on Scribd


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Barry Neufeld issued an apology Wednesday morning, following an emergency meeting of the board on Tuesday night to discuss his views on SOGI.

Just Posted

Chilliwack prolific offender wanted yet again

B.C.-wide warrant issued for David Allen Geoghegan

One man, two women charged with stolen pickup downtown Chilliwack

None of the three have criminal history in B.C.

COLUMN: Should elected officials block constituents and reporters on social media?

Ottawa mayor was sued for doing that but a Chilliwack school trustee didn’t get that message

Chilliwack-Hope MP says new summer jobs grant application no longer includes ‘values test’

Those with anti-abortion beliefs left out last year because of requirement to respect the Charter

Ask the Coach: Chilliwack Chiefs bench boss Brian Maloney talks shootouts

Ask the Coach is a bi-weekly feature where Maloney gives unfiltered answers to fan questions.

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Book a ride on a driverless shuttle in Surrey or Vancouver

Automated vehicle demos are being offered, as the two cities plan pilot projects with the shuttles

Heavy snowfall expected on the Coquihalla

Snowfall warning in effect for the Coquihalla Highway, from Hope to Merritt

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

Missing man from Crowsnest Pass could be in Lower Mainland

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

Most Read