Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld apologizes after launching broadside against gender theory

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      A provincewide uproar has led a long-time Chilliwack school trustee to say he's sorry.

      Earlier this week, Barry Neufeld claimed in a Facebook post that it was "child abuse" to allow little children to choose their gender.

      He also denounced "gender theory" that has led the Ministry of Education to advance its sexual orientation and gender identity program.

      "My post on Facebook has created a lot of controversy and first of all, I want to apologize to those who felt hurt by my opinion, including members of the Chilliwack Board of Education," Neufeld wrote in a news release."I am critical of an educational resource, not individuals. Those who have worked with me for over 24 years know that I DO believe in inclusion and a safe learning environment for all of our students: that they should be protected from all forms of bullying and intimidation."

      He also stated that he believes "there should be room for respectful discussion and dissent" in a free and democratic society.

      In that light, Neufeld called for a review of the sexual orientation and gender identity program's resources "by engaging parents and teachers in conversation on this topic before full implementation".

      The Chilliwack school board subsequently issued a statement declaring that Neufeld's comments "were his own personal opinions and do not reflect the views" of the board.

      The statement did not censure Neufeld.

      Meanwhile, a former Vancouver NDP candidate, Morgane Oger, has stated on Twitter that Neufeld's earlier comments should be sufficient for him to be fired. Oger is a former chair of the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council and the first trans person ever to run for office for one of B.C.'s two major political parties.

      The province has not followed Oger's advice.

      This afternoon, the following joint statement was issued by Education Minister Rob Fleming and the B.C. Teachers' Federation, B.C. School Superintendents' Association, B.C. School Trustees' Association, B.C. Principals and Vice-Principals' Association, B.C. Association of School Business Officials, Federation of Independent School Associations, and B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils:

      “We believe that all schools in our province, public and independent, must be spaces that are safe, acceptable, respectful, and welcoming for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or background. There is no room for discrimination in B.C. schools.

      “As provincial education partners, we are unified in this commitment. It is important that we all stand up and together to support inclusive-learning environments. Our goal as teachers, administrators, support staff, trustees and parents is to create learning environments where all students can thrive and live authentic lives.”