Chilliwack school board trustee Barry Neufeld at the board’s last meeting before the Oct. 20 election. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress file)

B.C. trustee’s anti-LGBTQ comments got him barred from schools

Barry Neufeld calls vote to leave him off liaison list ‘workplace discrimination’

Controversial Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld won’t be seen in any schools in the district as a liaison for the board.

Neufeld’s repeated comments about the LGBTQ community over the last year, and the distress it has caused to some teachers and students, led board chair Dan Coulter to put forth a motion at Tuesday’s board meeting to remove his name from the list of trustees who will serve as school liaisons.

The discussion that followed was heated and followed along predictable lines with Neufeld and his two-fellow trustees who have also expressed opposition to the anti-bullying resource SOGI 123 against the four trustees in support of the resource.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack school trustee calls himself a prophet

Neufeld called the move to exclude him discriminatory.

“My name has been omitted,” he said. “In other words, the chair is barring me from having any contact with schools. I was elected in Chilliwack to do the job of a school trustee. He has prevented me from doing that and that is really workplace discrimination.”

Not acting as a school liaison, however, is nothing new for Neufeld who stepped back from his duties as trustee a year ago over his anti-SOGI 123 comments, all while continuing to receive full remuneration.

• READ MORE: Neufeld announces stepping back from some duties

The issue of who serves as liaison trustees and at what schools is usually not something that comes to the full board. Board chair Dan Coulter added it to the agenda at the last minute because he said he “was accused of being a dictator.”

In speaking in favour of leaving him off the liaison list, vice-chair Willow Reichelt said because of Neufeld’s past and recent comments about gay and transgender youth, it’s not acceptable that he attend to schools for teacher and student safety.

“I actually believe that nobody who has opinions that contravene the human rights code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has any business being in schools…. Mr. Neufeld has made discriminatory comments about gay and transgender people.”

Since Neufeld first came out in opposition to the Ministry of Education-approved LGBTQ anti-bullying resource SOGI 123, and since he stepped back from his duties, he has doubled down and made many controversial comments on social media.

His latest, which was deleted a few days later, sparked particular ire online.

“The elites will destroy all gay kids,” it said on his Facebook profile, a profile that now appears to be deleted. “They are culling them from the gene pool. Make no mistake about it. The trans agenda is eugenics. They are not on the side of LGBT+. Don’t ever think they are. Snakes are everywhere. More division and the destruction of humanity.”

Trustees Heather Maahs and Darrell Furgason spoke in defence of Neufeld.

“No chair or corporate board has the right to target one member especially after an election, especially when you look at what the numbers are,” Maahs said, pointing to Neufeld’s high vote tally in the Oct. 20 election. “They disagree with half of our population and therefore are going to impose their will on them. This is undemocratic and this is improper to say the least.”

• READ MORE: Chilliwack school board results reveal clear split

Furgason, who himself has posted controversial statements and links about the LGBTQ community, said the board must represent all parents, and he called Neufeld’s exclusion a “vendetta of sorts.”

Trustees Jared Mumford and David Swankey, also spoke in favour of Coulter’s motion and the need to ensure Neufeld is not in contact with students or teachers in a liaison role.

“This is not really about parents of students and I think what brought this on was the feeling of students and teachers feeling unsafe because of comments made by Trustee Neufeld and posts made by Trustee Neufeld,” Mumford said. “I think we need to keep this conversation about the students and the teachers in the schools that he would be visiting as a liaison.”

Swankey added that excluding Neufeld did not stop any school or group of parents from having contact with the board, which is the point of the liaison role.

“What I would suggest is this is a democratic, transparent process,” he said. “There is a loss of trust in one of our colleagues…. For myself, I can’t trust that Trustee Neufeld will be a responsible liaison at this point.”

The role of liaison as set out in school board policy 223 is to provide opportunity for trustees to become acquainted with schools; act on behalf of the board when a board representative is desired at school functions; provide opportunity for increased communication between trustees and residents of the community; and advise the board chair or the superintendent of any emerging issues at their schools or sites.”

The question of feeling safe came up at the school board meeting itself, with Chilliwack Teachers’ Association vice-president Reid Clark stating at the podium during question period that he felt unsafe at the meeting, which was attended by a number of anti-SOGI 123 individuals, some from outside the community.

The issue of Trustee Furgason being assigned as liaison to Chilliwack Middle School, F.G. Leary Elementary, Greendale Elementary and Strathcona Elementary came up at the meeting, given his past statements about Islam and the LGBTQ community, and is likely one that won’t go away in the coming weeks and months.

Trustee Reichelt even implied that Furgason should have been left off the liaison list as well as Neufeld.

“If it was up to me, I would exclude another trustee as well but that hasn’t been done in this case.”

Full list of trustee liaisons and their schools for the 2018-2019 school year:

• Trustee Jared Mumford: Central Elementary Community School, G.W. Graham Secondary, McCammon Traditional Elementary, Mt. Slesse Middle School, Unsworth Elementary

• Trustee Dan Coulter: Bernard Elementary, Cheam Elementary, Cultus Lake Community School, Promontory Heights Elementary, Sardis Secondary

• Trustee Willow Reichelt: Chilliwack Secondary, Robertson Elementary, Vedder Elementary, Watson Elementary, Yarrow Community School

• Trustee David Swankey: East Chilliwack Elementary, Education Centre, Evans Elementary, Little Mountain Elementary, Rosedale Traditional School

• Trustee Heather Maahs: A.D. Rundel Middle School, Fraser Valley Distance Education School, Sardis Elementary, Tyson Elementary, Vedder Middle School

• Trustee Darrell Furgason: Chilliwack Middle School, F.G. Leary Elementary, Greendale Elementary, Strathcona Elementary


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The Chilliwack school board decided at its Dec. 11 meeting to leave Trustee Barry Neufeld off the list of trustees serving as school liaisons in response to safety concerns stemming from his frequent anti-LGBTQ comments. Neufeld called the move “workplace discrimination.” (SD33)

Just Posted

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

RDEK urges residents to be prepared for emergencies including flooding, wildfire

The East Kootenay region has been placed on a high streamflow advisory

Hosmer Fire Department sends thank you to anonymous gift donor

A handmade wooden plaque was left in front of the Hosmer firehall on May 28

Castle Project seeking public input

The comment period surrounding the expansion closes on June 23

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary rescinds all Grand Forks-area evacuation orders

Evacuation alerts for 1,136 Boundary properties remain in effect as officials monitor forecasts

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Nelson counsellor works online with university students in central Asia during pandemic

Robin Higgins is home from her job in Tajikistan because of COVID-19

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read