School trustee: Allowing children to change gender is 'child abuse'
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, October 24, 2017 8:56AM EDT
A school board trustee in B.C. has come under fire for comments he made online criticizing a new trans-friendly educational program and expressing his support for “traditional family values.”
Barry Neufeld, a trustee for the Chilliwack School District, wrote a Facebook post on Monday slamming the province’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) 123 program, which aims to educate children about gender identity, discourage bullying and promote inclusion.
“At the risk of being labelled a bigoted homophobe, I have to say that I support traditional family values and I agree with the College of paediatricians that allowing little children choose to change gender is nothing short of child abuse,” Neufeld wrote in the post.
Neufeld was referencing a claim, by the American College of Pediatricians in March 2016, that said teaching children that transgender people are normal and healthy amounts to “child abuse.”
The American College of Pediatricians is a socially conservative and politically-motivated fringe group that many pediatricians disagree with on gender identity, according to the fact-checking website Snopes.com.
The SOGI curriculum includes lesson plans that recognize students’ right to self-identify their gender and dictate their preferred gender pronoun – a protection that adheres to B.C.’s Human Rights Code. In his Facebook post, the 25-year board trustee described those gender theory lessons as a “weapon of propaganda.”
"The BC Ministry of Education has embraced the LGBTQ lobby and is forcing this biologically absurd theory on children in our schools,” Neufeld wrote.
The trustee also complained about other parts of the program, including a supposed ban on teachers calling students “boys and girls” and referring to their parents as “mothers and fathers.”
“If this represents the values of Canadian society, count me out!” Neufeld wrote. “I belong in a country like Russia, or Paraguay, which recently had the guts to stand up to these radical cultural nihilists.”
The lengthy post was met with more than a hundred comments by Tuesday morning. Many of the users expressed alarm at Neufeld’s stance and called for him to resign while others supported his opinion and congratulated him for speaking up.
Neufeld, who is also a church subdeacon and prison chaplain, declined to comment when he was approached by CTV Vancouver at his home on Monday.
In reaction to the Neufeld controversy, Education Minister Rob Fleming defended SOGI as part of an ongoing strategy to combat bullying in the province’s schools.
“We're in the fifth year of our Erase Bullying strategy that very much looked at some of the harassment and fear that gay and lesbian students and transgender students, in particular, have experienced in our school system and there was a consensus to eliminate that,” Fleming told CTV Vancouver on Monday afternoon.
The Chilliwack School District will hold a special meeting to discuss Neufeld’s comments before its regularly-scheduled meeting on Nov. 7.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Allison Tanner