Who is Barry Neufeld?
Barry Neufeld has served on the Chilliwack School District Board of Education for over 2 decades. He came under fire, October 23rd, for posting a transphobic meme, along with a message that referred to sexual orientation and gender identity as fads, and quoted a documented hate group (The College of Pediatricians), saying that allowing children to choose their gender is child abuse. Neufeld went as far as to say “I belong in a country like Russia, or Paraguay, which recently had the guts to stand up to these cultural nihilists (both countries have banned “gay propaganda” and are extremely dangerous places for LGBTQ2+ people).
Neufeld has since apologized “to those who felt hurt by [his] opinion.” His appology has been widely dismissed as a #SorryNotSorry statement. Well known queer advocates have slammed Neufeld’s post, pointing out that bullying has no place in schools, especially by someone who has a say in Chilliwack’s education system. Calls for Neufeld’s resignation have come from high-profile people, such as Education Minister Rob Flemming, Former Vancouver School Board Chair Patti Bacchus, and PFLAG President Colin McKenna. There is even a petition requesting Barry Neufeld’s resignation.
To sign the petition, click here.
What is SOGI 123?
Neufeld’s post was in response to changes to BC’s curriculum, which teaches children about sexual orientation and gender identity, in order to reduce bullying in schools and to create a more inclusive environment. Currently, 64% of LGBTQ2+ students feel unsafe at school.
To learn more, about SOGI 123, click here.
Why are Barry Neufeld’s Comments harmful?
While Neufeld is free to have personal opinions, he is also an elected official, and should behave as such. Doing what is best for students means teaching them, not forcing beliefs onto them. In the same way that SOGI 123 does not force children to be gay or transgender, Neufeld’s interpretation of Christianity should not be forced on students. Doing right by students and parents also means not bullying them, and not making them feel bad for simply being themselves.
A personal perspective:
I knew that I felt like a girl when I was in grade 1. Throughout my entire time in the BC education system, no one told me what it meant to be trans, and rarely were we educated on what sexual orientation was. Having SOGI 123 when I was in school could have saved me more than a decade of turmoil, not to mention the trauma and cost of trying to reverse the effects of going through the wrong puberty, followed by having to go through the correct one during adulthood. It’s comments like Barry Neufeld’s that keep children in the closet, it’s comments like his that make children ashamed to be themselves, and it’s comments like his that push children out of their houses, into depression, and sometimes to suicide.
So what is the gay agenda?
Aside from being a catch-phrase that human rights opponents invented, it’s pretty simple. We just want equity.