News / Vancouver

Chilliwack teacher's union asks government to intervene against trustee Barry Neufeld

The union passed a motion of non-confidence in the district's school board

The Trans Pride flag flies outside Vancouver City Hall. Emily Jackson/Metro

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The Trans Pride flag flies outside Vancouver City Hall. Emily Jackson/Metro

Following a human rights complaint filed against Chilliwack School Board trustee Barry Neufield, the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association is calling for government intervention against the district's Board of Education.

The union passed a motion of non-confidence in the board on Jan. 16. It comes one day after the district’s support staff union (CUPE Local 411) filed a BC Human Rights complaint against the Chilliwack School Board and trustee Barry Neufeld, alleging that Neufeld’s ongoing remarks about transgender people created an unsafe work environment.

Lee-Anne Clarke, president of the Chilliwack Teacher’s Association (CTA) said in a press release that the union is “extrememly worried about ensuring safe and inclusive schools and worksites for all…[and] at a time when the when our school community needs a unified response of support, the board has allowed a toxic climate to spread across the school district.”

The teacher’s union is asking Education Minister Rob Fleming to “intervene” in the situation.

In his role as minister, Fleming has the power to fire the elected school board and assume appoint someone else to assume their administrative duties. Clarke said the union is not explicitly asking Fleming to fire the board.

“I want him to take the action that he thinks is necessary,” she said.

Starting in October 2017, Neufeld began making lengthy facebook posts and speaking publicly about what he called the “dangers” of allowing children to transition genders.

Acccording to the press release, teachers at the Jan. 16 meeting expressed “deep concerns” that Neufeld’s fellow fellow trustees had not taken a stronger stance against his “attacks on the Sexual Orientiation and Gender Identity (SOGI) initiative,” which aims to increase inclusion and understanding of trans and gender-variant people.

The announcement follows a School Board meeting on Jan. 16, where the board passed a motion in support of SOGI teaching materials. Protestors also disrupted the meeting, expressing their discontent with Neufeld's ongoing remarks.

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