The Chilliwack School Board has officially asked Barry Neufeld to resign, finally.
The trustees voted to act in-camera under mounting pressure after Neufeld initiated a bully campaign against President of the District Parent Advisory Council of Chilliwack Justine Hodge that resulted in the parent volunteer to be bombarded by hateful and threatening messages from social-conservative extremists, prompting the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, BCCPAC, to write a letter in defense of the Chilliwack DPAC, stating their support and asking for
“In light of what you and the DPAC are currently facing, the BCCPAC Board of Directors made a unanimous decision at the January 11 board meeting to write the Chilliwack Board of Education to consider a review of the codes of conduct to ensure all members of your school communities – including the DPAC – do not feel intimidated or threatened”
The Chilliwack School Board’s action comes following a number of missteps by Neufeld which included equating supporting transgender children to child abuse in September and advising people in a public setting that therapies aimed to transform the sexuality or gender identity, also known as conversion therapy, are one way to address the situation when a child declares themselves transgender or gay.
I spoke to Trustee Neufeld on a number of occasions and urged him to stop his outrageous actions in order to not become the case-study in how to ruin a legacy by testing the patience of British Columbians with hateful drivel.
I followed up with some video messages to get his attention.
First in November:
Then in December:
Predictably, Neufeld did not pick up the phone.
Sexual orientation and gender identity or expression are explicitly protected by British Columbian and Canadian law and the country recognizes attempts to pathologize protected communities as hate speech.
Despite Community efforts to rein in Neufeld in and explain to him the bases of the protections whose implementations he opposes, Barry Neufeld repeated his statements, appearing at public events condemning institutions that have put in place the protections required by our human rights law, supported in 2016 by 84% of Canadians in an Angus Reid Foundation poll. His statements went from bad to worse, buoyed by bad advice by hate groups and TV evangelist personalities who seem have utterly lost the plot regarding the attitudes of Canadians when it comes to extremist conservative views and supremacist ideologies.
After a human rights complaint against the Chilliwack Board of Education and Barry Neufeld by the local chapter of the Canadian Union of public employees, CUPE411, and followed by a vote of loss of confidence by the Chilliwack Teachers Association for creating a toxic environment and calls by parent groups for his resignation, the Chilliwack School Board acted on January 18th to demand the resignation of Neufeld.
The board released the statement on Friday morning, following another heated week of discussions surrounding Neufeld’s statements about sexual orientation and gender identity policies in schools.
“Trustee Neufeld has publicly expressed strong opinions in opposition to the changes in the B.C. Human Rights Code that was expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity,”
– Chilliwack Board of Education (SD33)
They passed a motion in an in-camera meeting on Jan. 18,
“because of a loss in confidence in Trustee Neufeld’s ability to effectively perform the duties of a Trustee.”
– Chilliwack Board of Education (SD33)
BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming followed the next day with his own call to resign, saying that:
“While individuals are entitled to their opinions, Mr. Neufeld has jeopardized student safety, divided his school community, and acted against board and ministry policies.”
– Minister of Education Rob Flemming
This was avoidable.
Barry Neufeld could easily have walked back his statements when he initially made them. It appears that very Neufeld sought the advice of culture guard, a notorious extreme conservative pressure group in British Columbia who stated goal is to create a religious state. I reached out to Neufeld publicly to help him find a way off his personal cliff, but never heard from him.
It very well may be that Barry Neufeld’s purpose will turn out to have been to act as a cautionary tale for the consequences of listening to hate groups. for now, Educators and parents throughout British Columbia are watching and waiting to see whether Barry Neufeld will here his stakeholders and resign so that Educators in Chilliwack can get on with the business of educating and stop having to deal with the hateful consequences of Neufeld and Culture Guard’s actions.
Neufeld will not get away with his stance.
Human rights, once they are won, are fiercely defended.
Note: I expressed the my concerns with Neufeld’s public position on LGBTQ issues on an earlier post in this blog.