Gaslighting, child abuse, and indoctrination into a “fad.”
That’s the picture Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld painted for a crowd of about 450 people on Tuesday night, who gathered to support him and hear him speak about a new teacher resource.
“Vast changes are being rapidly forced on school districts,” he says, including new computer programs and “rigid” classroom composition. “And now radical new education curriculum which has been rolled out as an anti-bullying program. When SOGI came along I couldn’t help it, I had to speak out.”
SOGI is an acronym for sexual orientation and gender identity, a phrase used by the BC Human Rights Code to describe a group that is protected from discrimination. A new teacher’s resource that addresses gender identity in the classroom, called SOGI 123, was launched as a pilot program in select B.C. schools last school year. It has been approved by the Ministry of Education for use by all teachers for this school year.
Neufeld was invited to speak at the rally by the group called Culture Guard, run by Kari Simpson, after he publicly stated his opposition to SOGI 123 on his Facebook page in October. That post prompted an emergency meeting of the board, and he issued an apology the morning after.
However, he repeated some of the same sentiments at the meeting.
“The message of SOGI is a subtle but powerful suggestion that perhaps there is something wrong with the child, that all children should consider rejecting their own gender identity,” Neufeld said. “In Kindergarten books, like Red, A Crayon’s Book, educators protect the lie that a child might actually be a girl in a male’s body or vice versa.
“This is gaslighting, the attack on the foundation of the child’s being which is child abuse.”
Neufeld reads statement saying words and thoughts are his own pic.twitter.com/vpaeuQgmAR— Jessica Peters (@CHWKcommunity) November 22, 2017
Those types of strong statements has prompted a fellow Chilliwack school trustee to call for Neufeld’s resignation.
“As Trustees, we must understand the impact of our actions before we take them. Trustee Neufeld has proved repeatedly that he cannot do this and is unable to move past his own narrow worldview,” Dan Coulter said.
A group of about two dozen protesters also called for him to resign, holding up placards inside and outside Evergreen Hall and chanting as people entered and exited the building.
Inside, Neufeld said the inclusion of transgender children in discussions in the classrooms excludes and even discriminates against students with “traditional family values.”
SOGI is “encouraging and enabling dysfuncational behaviour and thinking patterns,” he added. “Instead of coddling and encouraging what I call the sexual addiction of gender confusion, I believe children should be gently encouraged to be comfortable with their bodies. I believe this is best done privately by the parents of the child perhaps with the assistance of a psychotherapist, but not their teachers and peers.”
His speech was often met with thunderous applause, but also jeers from protesters who kept to the sidelines. The audience included a wide range of ages from teenagers and parents to the elderly. Trustee Heather Maahs was also in attendance.
Neufeld just announced he will run in 2018 on this platform then shook Kari Simpson’s hand, roaring applause. pic.twitter.com/4v3SQvBP3m— Jessica Peters (@CHWKcommunity) November 22, 2017
Near the end of his speech, he conceded that he does agree no person is entirely feminine or masculine, but underlined that biology does not change.
“Gender confusion appears to be becoming a new fad,” he stated. “This is harmful to children and we should not be encouraging it in School District 33.”
Despite media reports that he’d said he won’t run again, he used the meeting as a chance to announce he is running for re-election on the board “on the platform of a more positive, gender-based teaching of students.”
He also said, though, that he “will not undermine the majority decision of the board.”
Neufeld has not responded to multiple requests for an interview with The Progress.
The full speech from Neufeld was filmed and is available online:
Who is Culture Guard?
Neufeld’s speech was followed by one from Simpson. The speech is similar to others she’s held around the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. She runs a website and seems to be behind another group called Parents United Canada.
She said with the NDP having a shaky hold on power in B.C., it was time to “obliterate” politicians who support SOGI in schools. She also said politicians and “sex activists” are turning schools into a “political playground.” She mentioned the sexual orientation of politicians and noted that parents need to be aware of who is making decisions for their children.
Wants to “obliterate” politicians (including school trustees) who support SOGI. pic.twitter.com/2Ur9b7tPEg— Jessica Peters (@CHWKcommunity) November 22, 2017
Morgane Oger, a transgender woman who is also the vice president of the B.C. NDP and narrowly lost in the Vancouver False Creek riding last election, was in the audience. Simpson insisted on referring to Oger as a man, and said “his delusions end where my reality begins,” to laughter and applause from the audience.
The rally wrapped up with Simpson asking those in attendance for financial donations, saying “war is not cheap” and that she had quit her full time job to lead Culture Guard. Volunteers collected envelopes of cash and cheques, and handed out leaflets and reading material including a book called The Health Hazards of Homosexuality.