School trustee apologizes to those hurt by gender identity rant
Published Wednesday, October 25, 2017 10:05AM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 25, 2017 12:22PM PDT
A B.C. school official who ranted against the province's inclusive gender identity curriculum on Facebook this week has issued a public apology to those hurt by his comments.
Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld said his remarks, which included calling the trans-friendly curriculum "biologically absurd," were directed at the lessons themselves, and not at any people.
"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," Neufeld said in a written statement Wednesday morning. "They should be protected from all forms of bullying and intimidation."
Neufeld also said he believes in the importance of respectful discussion and dissent, and that he hopes the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity curriculum will be thoroughly reviewed by parents and teachers before it's implemented.
His Facebook post, which is no longer publicly visible, blasted the curriculum for its handling of transgenderism, same-sex marriage, and other issues.
"At the risk of being labelled a bigoted homophobe, I have to say that I support traditional family values," Neufeld wrote. "Allowing little children to change gender is nothing short of child abuse."
His rant prompted a closed-door emergency meeting at the Chilliwack Board of Education Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the board said it does not agree with Neufeld's opinions, and pointed out that the new curriculum keeps the district in line with the B.C. Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms as well as the province's updated Human Rights Code.
The educational resources instruct teachers to recognize students' right to self-identify their gender, and advises them to address children by their preferred gender pronoun.
Minister of Education Rob Fleming said the curriculum, which was designed to discourage bullying, has been broadly embraced by teachers and school officials across the province.
"I don't see Mr. Neufeld persuading me or his colleagues on the school board," Fleming said. "He's on the wrong side of history on this issue."
Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld issues statement re:controversial FB post:"I want to apologize to those who felt hurt by my opinion" pic.twitter.com/qxE0gfpOG8— Nafeesa Karim (@nafeesakarim) October 25, 2017