Culture Guard has announced that Chilliwack school board trustee Barry Neufeld will be an honoured guest and special speaker at a rally here.
The meeting is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 21 at the Evergreen Hall in Chilliwack, beginning at 7 p.m.
The meeting will likely focus on a sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum resource, called SOGI 123, that has been approved by the Ministry of Education for B.C.’s teachers to use day to day in the classroom. Culture Guard has rallied against SOGI 123 in communities across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.
In October, Neufeld also spoke out publicly against the curriculum resource, in a long Facebook post that likened parents who support their transgender children to child abusers (read the full post at bottom of this story). He also stated that he did not feel in line with the values of Canada, and would rather live in a country like Russia. He called those who support SOGI “cultural nihilists.”
While he released an apology “to those who felt hurt by his opinion”, the apology underlined his intent to bring SOGI 123 resources to the forefront for more discussion. Neufeld has not yet responded to a request for an interview with The Progress from that time.
And he has several supporters who feel the same way. However, the school district is moving ahead with discussing SOGI 123 and they held their first discussion at their Nov. 7 board meeting. Neufeld was absent from that meeting, attending a conference elsewhere.
Now, his name has shown up in a press release from Culture Guard, announcing their Chilliwack meeting.
“A rally and STOP SOGI123 information meeting is being organized in support of Chilliwack School Trustee Barry Neufeld, to honour and recognize his courageous stand in protecting children and exposing the SOGI 123 agenda that is being smuggled into BC schools,” the release says. “Trustee Neufeld, the guest of honour, will be there to continue his efforts to protect children and stop SOGI 123.”
They continued, saying Neufeld’s act of speaking out has brought many others out to say they feel the same. They also quote him as saying: “As a trustee I have a duty to protect all children, and to respect the rights of parents to be informed about what is transpiring in the school and classroom.”
Other speakers will include Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson, a Christian broadcaster and free speech advocate and Kari Simpson, executive director for Culture Guard.
When Neufeld spoke out in October, the Chilliwack School District, Ministry of Education, Fraser Valley Labour Council, Chilliwack District Parent’s Advisory Council, the BC Teachers’ Federation, the BC School Trustees’ Association, and many others responded that they continue to support everyone in the LGBTQ community. The labour council asked for his resignation, while Minister of Education Rob Fleming said he would hope Neufeld would familiarize himself with the issues.
Evergreen Hall is a city-owned facility, and was rented by the group through the city.
A statement from the city regarding the rental says they are bound by law to rent out to groups that meet certain criteria, although it doesn’t mean the city endorses said groups.
“The City is subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” the statement says. “Section 2(b) of the Charter guarantees freedom of thought, belief, and opinion. This guarantee is interpreted broadly by the courts and includes any non-violent activity that conveys or attempts to convey meaning, including religious and political meaning. As a result of the freedom of expression guarantee, the City is not permitted to distinguish between various groups on the basis of whether or not the City supports the messaging of those groups. However, we emphasize that the City’s rental of its facilities to a particular group, including Culture Guard, should not be seen as an endorsement by the City of that group’s message.”