Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld speaking against the B.C. Education Ministry’s SOGI 123 program at a rally called by Culture Guard in Chilliwack in November. (Jessica Peters/Progress file)

Union files human rights complaint over Chilliwack school trustee’s LGBTQ comments

Board and trustee Barry Neufeld facing $50,000 tribunal charge over alleged ‘unsafe work environment’

The union that represents Chilliwack school support workers, custodians, transportation staff and others has filed a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal.

The complaint, by CUPE 411, is against school trustee Barry Neufeld and the Chilliwack School Board. Back in November, Neufeld began a series of public comments airing his beliefs about transgender policies, gender theories, and family values, in light of the province adopting new teaching resources to address sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.

His attitudes, expressed online, in board meetings and in spoken public forums, created “an unsafe work environment for CUPE members and other Board employees” the HRT complaint states, as confirmed by board chair Paul McManus.

The complaint asks for a declatory order that the board has breached the Human Rights Code, and that all trustees and senior management take part in training on LGBTQ equality rights, and on protecting LGBTQ students in schools.

They are also seeking an order to direct the board to enforce their own policy to adopt a motion of censure. In addition, they are asking that a fee of $50,000 in compensation for “injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect” be paid on behalf of affected employee to a non-profit group that advocates for LGBTQ youth.

The board recieved notice of the complaint on Monday afternoon (Jan. 15), confirmed McManus.

“There’s not a whole lot we can talk about at this point,” he said. “We’ve had to forward it onto legal for advice.”

McManus added that the whole discussion has overshadowed all of the other work the board has had at its table over the past few months, including a massive plan to reconfigure school grades.

“We keep trying to move forward with the other business of the board with all of this in the background,” he said. “But we keep constantly breaking out in these conversations.”

While he says that the conversation around SOGI and inclusion are important, there are certain things people want that the board just can’t do. There are people who oppose Neufeld who want him fired by the board, which is not legally possible, McManus said. On the other hand there are Neufeld supporters who believe schools are involved with gender reassignment surgeries and puberty blockers, which also isn’t factual, he added.

“This all stems from these personal opinions Barry’s thrown out there and we have to deal with as a board because of who he has aligned himself with,” McManus said. In November, Neufeld spoke as a special guest at a Culture Guard rally in Chilliwack. He has also sent out a mass email to his supporters to ask them to email the District Parent Advisory Council chair, Justine Hodge, after the DPAC called for his resignation. He asked his supporters to “challenge her opinions” and suggested Hodge would be running against him in the school board elections in October.

Hodge has never stated an intention to run for school board, and the provincial confederation of PACs has written to support the Chilliwack DPAC’s actions.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cyclist injured in Langley hit-and-run

Rider was taken to hospital

Phasing plans for Brookswood defeated

Council voted against staggering neighbourhood planning in Brookswood-Fernridge.

LETTER: Canada should not be selling weapons abroad

A Langley man is critical of Canada for selling arms that are being used to kill civilians.

Langley author pens tribute to the men and women of Canada’s military for Remembrance Day

‘A soldier, a sailor and an airman … stood before the Pearly Gates’

LETTER: Langley candidate pleasantly surprised by campaign

A local woman who ran for municipal council is grateful for the experience.

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read