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Throness weighs in on Neufeld controversy

Says trustee “deserves respect and kindness”
Kent-Chilliwack MLA Laurie Throness says Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld is “a great and good person” and that he “feels an obligation to protect him.” File Photo

Kent-Chilliwack MLA Laurie Throness weighed in on the online backlash brewing around Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld after the District 33 trustee made a Facebook post against gender identity policies in schools on Monday.

READ: Chilliwack trustee calls LGBTQ school program ‘weapon of propaganda’

Throness tweeted Wednesday that the trustee “deserves to be treated with respect and kindness.”

“I’ve known Barry for a long time and he is really a great and good person,” Throness says. “I feel kind of an obligation to protect him and to stick up for my constituents who I know are good people.”

“People who oppose bullying should oppose bullying in all its forms,” Throness adds.

“I think, it seems to me that he should be treated with respect and kindness and perhaps instead of demonizing him, we should ask, what caused this nice guy to respond so strongly?”

READ: Chilliwack trustee issues apology for Facebook comments

It’s not the first time Throness has been vocal about matters involving gender identity.

In July, 2016 he spoke at the B.C. Liberal Caucus on Bill 27, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, saying “gender is not divorced from one’s identity.”

Bill 27 introduced legislation that made B.C.’s Human Rights Code more explicit in protecting transgender people in the province, adding “gender identity or expression” to the protected ground covered by the code.

Throness told the Liberal Caucus that his beliefs about gender identity are rooted in the Christian faith, that “biology is destiny” and “how we are born is who we are meant to be.”

He said that as a matter of law, “the bill was unnecessary.”

“In my opinion, this special recognition reflects the strong and growing political influence of the LGBT community,” Throness said. “Look at Vancouver or Toronto’s Pride parade, these are all displays of power.”

“Politicians and academics, human rights tribunals, the public service, LGBT organizations and the media – all these elements of society are ready to descend on the head of any offender, wielding two great weapons: shame and condemnation at the mere rumor of discrimination.”

On the subject of Barry Neufeld, Throness says “there’s nothing wrong with openness and transparency and having an open discussion about any government policy.”

“I would defend Barry’s right to speak out strongly about what he believes.”