Jan 22nd, 2018
CHILLIWACK, BC: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca) today announced it is representing Chilliwack School District trustee Barry Neufeld as he defends himself against a human rights complaint by a union of local School District staff. Mr. Neufeld has publicly criticized the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI 123) curriculum supplements that BC teachers are encouraged to use. SOGI 123 materials promote, among other things, the belief that gender is fluid, that there are more than two genders, and that gender is not determined by biological sex.
The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in 2016 amended the BC Human Rights Code to include protection for “gender expression” and “gender identity”. Subsequently, the then-Liberal education minister worked with the Vancouver-based ARC Foundation to develop new “anti-bullying” policies that are “inclusive” of LGBT students.
SOGI 1-2-3 is a series of policy and procedure templates, curriculum supplements, and compilations of LGBT resources developed by the ARC Foundation. While SOGI 1-2-3 is non-mandatory, BC teachers are encouraged by the BC Teachers Federation to use the SOGI 1-2-3 curriculum supplements in the classroom. SOGI 1-2-3 materials propagate a sexual and gender ideology that many consider harmful to children, based on scientific objections.
Barry Neufeld has been a trustee with the Chilliwack School District from 1992-2008 and also since 2011. He began publicly criticizing SOGI 1-2-3 in the fall of 2017. At that time, he posted to his Facebook page some of his critiques, which included arguments that gender ideology is scientifically false, harmful to children, and not adding any value to anti-bullying efforts.
Last week, Mr. Neufeld became aware of a human rights complaint against him and the Chilliwack School District. The complaint was made by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 411 (CUPE 411), which represents approximately 800 support staff employed by the School District. CUPE 411 claims that the School District has violated section 13(1)(b) of the BC Human Rights Code by not “censuring” or removing Mr. Neufeld as a trustee. CUPE 411 further claims that the School District violated section 13(1)(b) of the Code by failing to take any action against Mr. Neufeld, and that Mr. Neufeld’s statements have created an “unsafe” and “discriminatory” working environment for employees.
The Chilliwack School District board voted on January 18, 2018 to urge Mr. Neufeld to resign following the complaint. British Columbia’s Education Minister Rob Fleming has also called on Mr. Neufeld to resign, on January 19.
In a written statement on January 19, Mr. Neufeld explained:
“I am interested and invested in all students receiving an excellent education regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or other group identity. I support a safe environment for all students in our public education system, and I support a diverse and pluralistic education system, which includes children who come from homes with traditional family values or faith-based beliefs regarding marriage, sexuality, and gender. I have simply taken issue with one facet of the SOGI 1-2-3 learning resources: the teaching of the theory, as if it was fact, that gender is fluid, that there are more than two genders, and that gender is not based in biology.”
“It is my duty as an elected School Board official to speak up when the best interests of children may be compromised,” further explained Mr. Neufeld. “I will continue to do my duty as Trustee in this regard, while exercising my constitutional freedom of expression as a Canadian,” continued Neufeld.
“This case involves freedom of expression and parental rights in education, both of them Charter rights,” stated lawyer John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre.
“The actions of the Chilliwack School District and BC Education Minister Rob Fleming, in urging Mr. Neufeld to resign, are intimidation and bullying, and profoundly disrespectful of the right of voters to choose their own representatives,” continued Carpay.