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

Controversial bylaw tabled, ‘beautified’ Kent kiosk

The lastest from the District of Kent council

Chilliwack-Kent MLA decries ‘classic, big tax-and-spend’ NDP budget

Laurie Throness says budget relies on strong economy but contains no ideas to help it grow

Driver of vehicle down 90-foot embankment rescued on Highway 5 near Hope

Rope rescue conducted on mutual-aid call with Chilliwack SAR, Hope SAR and Agassiz fire department

Missing man located in Harrison Mills

Social media helps track down missing man

B.C. BUDGET: Fare freeze, free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Horses and science combine for new program at Fraser Valley school

‘I get to do something I’m passionate about,’ says Chilliwack equine studies student

Thieves make off with live trolley wires in Vancouver

Authorities warn that touching live wire can be deadly

WATCH: Vancouver Island family builds eight-foot igloo in their yard

Sunday snowfall on the mid-Island leads to all-day family activity

TransLink ready for the snow

Officials at TransLink say they are ready for the snow that is supposed to fall this weekend

Three new judges appointed to B.C. Supreme Court

Two spots filled in Vancouver, one in New Westminster

BCHL Today: Merritt’s Buckley nets scholarship and Vees slam Salmon Arm

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Even more snow expected for Lower Mainland

Some areas could see five to 10 centimetres Friday

Most Read