Education minister urges Chilliwack school trustee to resign over LGBTQ concerns
Fellow school board trustees also want Barry Neufeld to step down after remarks deemed transphobic and homophobic
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Education Minister Rob Fleming is urging Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld to resign from his position.
After Neufeld began speaking publicly against the school baord’s efforts to provide education on LGBTQ topics and compared transitioning to "child abuse," community members, unions, and now the minister, are taking a stand against Neufeld’s ongoing involvement in the education system.
“I am joining parents, teachers, support staff and his fellow trustees who have lost confidence in Mr. Neufeld due to his negative and destructive words and actions,” he said in a statement. “It’s time for him to now do the right thing for the Chilliwack school community and step down.”
Earlier this week, the Chilliwack support staff union filed a human rights complaint against both Neufeld and the school board. Submitted Jan. 15, the complaint alleged that Neufeld’s comments and actions were creating an unsafe work environment for the union’s staff.
The teacher’s union joined the chorus shortly after, and passed a motion of non-confidence in the board. It also called on the education minister to step and to “take the action that he thinks is necessary.”
Neufeld’s fellow school board trustees also called for his resignation, and on Jan. 18 passed a motion requesting he resign.
“[We are] requesting the resignation of Trustee Barry Neufeld because of a loss in confidence … in Trustee Neufeld’s ability to effectively perform the duties of a Trustee,” read a statement from the Chilliwack school baord.
“Trustee Neufeld’s public statements,” it continued, “have led partner groups to contact the Board of Education expressing concerns for his public actions that demonstrate intolerance, are contrary to the B.C. Human Rights Code and contrary to the views of the Board of Education.
In October, Neufeld compared gender transition to “child abuse” in a Facebook post and later spoke at a rally where he described transgender kids as suffering “the sexual addiction of gender confusion.” In later posts and in a Jan. 15 interview with Metro, Neufeld maintained his position, and spoke against the idea of allowing trans kids to begin transitioning with hormone blockers at puberty.
"I believe in inclusion for all students regardless of what they are struggling with in life. I just don't want them to make irreversible decisions that they may come to regret later."
Fleming acknowledged that individuals have the right to their own opinion, but said Neufeld’s words and actions are causing harm.
“Mr. Neufeld has jeopardized student safety, divided his school community, and acted against board and ministry policies,” Fleming said.
In his position as minister, Fleming cannot fire an individual trustee but he has the authority to fire the entire elected board, and appoint someone else to administer the district.