Chilliwack school board Trustee Barry Neufeld is in the spotlight again for something he wrote on social media.
PressProgress has reported that Neufeld shared a link March 3 on the “Exposing SOGI 123” Facebook page. The shared link came from a site called thebridgehead.ca, with the headline “The number of self-identified trans people has gone up 800%-and how you can protect your kids.”
Neufeld commented on his own post saying, “If you have kids in public school, pull them out.”
The anti-LGBTQ Facebook page he posted on is a private one, with members needing permission to join. The “About this group” description says “SOGI prematurely sexualizes children. It opposes and deconstructs the natural formation of a child’s sexual identity. The resulting gender confusion makes children susceptible to tolerating perverse sexual practices including paedophelia.”
Trustee Heather Maahs is similarly involved on the “Exposing SOGI 123” Facebook page. Maahs responded to a post on the page about the PressProgress story.
“Barry isn’t confident in public schools right now,” she posted. “This is a surprise? This warrants a story? Now we hear from the BCSTA who has voiced her opposition to any trustee who isn’t ‘progressive.’”
The latter references BC School Trustees Association president Stephanie Higgionson who told PressProgress Neufeld’s comments are “terribly disappointing and completely out of step with his role as a trustee.”
Neufeld is no stranger to SOGI 123 controversy dating back to 2017 when he made a lengthy post to his personal Facebook page calling it a “weapon of propaganda” for gender theories.
“At the risk of being labelled a bigoted homophobe, I have to say that I support traditional family values and I agree with the College of paediatricians that allowing little children choose to change gender is nothing short of child abuse,” he wrote at the time. “But now the BC Ministry of Education has embraced the LGBTQ lobby and is forcing this biologically absurd theory on children in our schools.”
Neufeld has stuck to his views, and because of that found himself in hot water many times since.
There is no mechanism to remove him from his role on the school board, but that hasn’t stopped many people from calling for it, including former BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming, who had strong words after Neufeld shared a social post last May promoting a COVID-19 transgender conspiracy theory about Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam.
“So this is just more recklessness and an even higher level of being unhinged, given this trustee’s history of making inflammatory, derogatory and hateful comments,” Fleming said.
Responding to the latest firestorm, Chilliwack SD33 board chair WIllow Reichelt called it unacceptable that anyone working in public education would continually deny transgender identity.
“In addition, it is outrageous for a public school trustee to suggest that people should pull their children out of the system,” she said. “I want to focus on all of the important work being done in SD33 and to celebrate our wonderful and caring staff and engaged and creative students. I am very tired of having to address discriminatory comments that do not reflect the views of the Chilliwack Board of Education.
“The Board has made numerous statements to distance ourselves from Mr. Neufeld, and he is currently under censure. He is not allowed to sit on any committees or act as a school liaison, and he is not invited to district events where he would come into contact with staff and students. In addition, he is barred from our in-camera meetings until the end of this school year, and we have asked him to resign.”
Neufeld is currently facing legal action from Chilliwack resident Peter Lang for allegedly disclosing content from an in-camera school board meeting.
A member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) filed a complaint against Neufeld, claiming his public statements about the SOGI 123 program “created an unsafe work environment for CUPE members and other Board employees.”
Lang said Neufeld should have recused himself from that discussion, and not doing so created a conflict of interest. A proposed resolution to that complaint involved an apology and a payment of funds to an LGBTQ organization.
Lang said that Neufeld not only didn’t recuse himself, he also complained that the complaint would cost him $50,000, a reference to damages in the CUPE complaint.
Neufeld did not respond to a Chilliwack Progress request to comment.