Anti-SOGI school board trustee Barry Neufeld to run again in Chilliwack

Longtime trustee is campaigning on opposition to Ministry of Education’s sexual orientation gender identity policy

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Controversial longtime Chilliwack Board of Education trustee Barry Neufeld will run again in the October 2022 election.

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Neufeld — who has been attacked by rival board members, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Ministry of Education for his position on the government’s sexual orientation gender identity (SOGI) policy — said he was running again because “I care so much about children who are uncomfortable in their bodies.”

In a statement, he said “I want them to grow up as well adjusted, contented adults. I don’t hate them. I want to protect them. And I care enough about them that I don’t want them to permanently damage their bodies and destroy forever their ability to experience the joy of bringing new life into the world.”

The SOGI initiative is a provincial program designed to make B.C. schools more inclusive for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, heterosexual or cisgender (identifying with the same gender that one was assigned at birth) students.

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Neufeld is engaged in a legal battle with former BCTF president Glen Hansman, over comments made by Hansman that Neufeld believes are defamatory.

According to a June 2021 article by Postmedia’s Keith Fraser, the case began in 2017 after a Facebook post by Neufeld that was critical of his district’s gender inclusivity education program.

Hansman responded to a number of media outlets and there were calls for Neufeld to resign.

Neufeld then filed the defamation suit alleging Hansman’s statements suggested he was bigoted, hated homosexuals and transgender people, and that he had committed the criminal offence of hate speech and should not be allowed near children.

Hansman reacted to the lawsuit by seeking to have the case thrown out under a B.C. law, the Protection of Public Participation Act, which was aimed at protecting participation in matters of public interest.

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This was successful, but was later overturned by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

In January, the Supreme Court of Canada said it was considering whether the defamation lawsuit should proceed.

Neufeld said he stood against “the new gender ideology, pushed by gender radicals, our government, medical professionals, our schools and by pharmaceutical companies who are making exorbitant profits as they cultivate customers for a lifetime of hormone therapy.”

Neufeld is no stranger to controversy.

In November 2020, B.C.’s minister of education called on Neufeld to resign after he called the publisher, editor and a reporter with the Chilliwack Progress “retards” in a Facebook post that was changed and then redacted.

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There are seven people on the Chilliwack school board, including two who are politically aligned with Neufeld — Heather Maahs and Darrell Furgason.

A hotly contested school board byelection in November 2021 led to the election of progressive Carin Bondar, who defeated Neufeld ally Richard Procee.

The Chilliwack School District — that is governed by the board — has 20 elementary schools (K-5), five middle schools (6-8) and five secondary schools (9-12).

The district has 14,000 students and 1,800 teachers and support staff.

According to latest Canada census data, Chilliwack is one of the fastest growing regions in Canada.

This is reflected in a baby boom in the area. In May, 2021 there were 100 babies born at Chilliwack General Hospital, comparing to the average 62 a month over the past few years.

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