Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld speaking against the B.C. education ministry’s SOGI program at a rally called by Culture Guard in Chilliwack. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)

School board refuses to host meeting after anti-SOGI trustee plans to attend

Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld outspoken opponent of SOGI

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board has declined to host a meeting of the Fraser Valley branch of the B.C. School Trustee Association because Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld intended to attend.

Neufeld has been asked to resign by the Chilliwack school board over his comments opposing the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum in the province.

He said at a board meeting Tuesday in Chilliwack that he had been looking forward to attending the Fraser Valley branch meeting, which was to be held Feb. 5 at Maple Ridge secondary.

But in a letter from School District No. 42 board chair Mike Murray, the board declined to host the meeting.

“Our decision on this is guided by Policy 9410: Safe, Caring and Healthy Schools, which outlines the Board’s commitment to providing safe, caring and socially responsible school environments, as well as educational opportunities such as SOGI,” Murray said in the letter to Shelley Carter, president of the Fraser Valley branch.

“This same policy also captures the expectation we outline for our school codes of conduct, which is that: ‘Any language (oral or written) or behavior that deliberately degrades, denigrates, labels, stereotypes or incites hatred, prejudice, discrimination or harassment towards students or employees on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity will not be tolerated.’

“Given that Trustee Barry Neufeld, who has indicated his intent to attend this meeting, has publicly expressed views that contravene our longstanding policy and stated values, we must unfortunately decline to host this event at one of our schools.

“While we regret putting the branch in the very awkward position of having to consider postponing its meeting, we do feel the need to stand strongly by our stated values. Otherwise, they have no meaning.”

The meeting has been rescheduled and will now be held in Abbotsford.

“I’m disappointed that I have such a negative reputation that even other school boards are scared of me, but I intend to press on, for the sake of students and for the safety of children,” Neufeld said at the Chilliwack board meeting.

Neufeld later said in a phone interview that his board pays $60,000 to be a member of the BCSTA, and he has a right to attend its meetings, and board trustees and administrators were generally planning to attend the event in Maple Ridge.

Neufeld said opposing the SOGI curriculum is about freedom of speech, and a parent’s right to contest materials being brought into the classroom.

The B.C. School Trustees Association issued a statement on Jan. 19 supporting the Chilliwack school board calling for the resignation of Neufeld.

“As trustees, we take an oath [to] ‘not allow any private interest to influence my conduct in public matters’ and it is imperative that a public school trustee represent and protect the safety of all students,” said the BCSTA statement.

“When one allows personal beliefs to infringe on their ability to do so, and when those beliefs conflict with the policies of the board that they represent along with the laws that govern the province, there are consequences. In this case, it has resulted in a loss of confidence from the Chilliwack Board of Education and the Minister of Education in the trustee’s ability to adequately fulfill the duties of office that he was elected to perform.”

Neufeld said he is not sure whether he will attend the meeting in Abbotsford.

“I don’t want to rock the boat any more than it’s already rocking.”

Just Posted

Harrison art exhibit features portraits of female strength, power

Ranger Station Art Gallery puts Angela Burdon’s portrait work on display

Fire ignites along Highway 7 between Hope and Agassiz

Nine volunteers doused the flames with what they had before fire crews arrived

Agassiz Harrison school trustee candidates talk SOGI, spending and more

Final all-candidates meeting sees trustee-hopefuls taking the hot seat

Canada Post supports popular literacy program in Agassiz, Seabird Island

Community foundation awards grant to Story time in the Park

One of Chilliwack’s oldest clubs, Toastmasters, hosts an open public speaking event this month

An open house will take place on Oct. 24 at the Mt. Cheam Lions Club Hall at 7:15 p.m.

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Man killed in shooting at Abbotsford bank

Police believe incident on Thursday night to be targeted

Jets score 3 late goals to beat Canucks 4-1

Winnipeg ends three-game Vancouver win streak

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

Sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around

VPD ordered to co-operate with B.C. police watchdog probe

According to the IIO, a court is ordering Vancouver police to co-operate with an investigation into a fatal shooting

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

B.C. woman looks to reduce stigma surrounding weed-smoking moms

Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, started weedmama.ca to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers

B.C. teen gives away tickets to Ellen Degeneres show, plans O Canada welcome

The Grade 9 student wanted to give away tickets in the spirit of inclusivity

Most Read