Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld brought residential schools into the SOGI 123 debate that’s been brewing in this district since October, when he began criticizing the teacher resource.
In his trustee remarks at the end of Tuesday’s school board meeting, he read from a written statement about the past few weeks. He had been uninvited from a regional meeting that was to be held in Maple Ridge after some members said they were uncomfortable with his attendance because of comments he has made about the gay, lesbian and transgender community.
The meeting was moved to Abbotsford, where Neufeld said he felt like “the elephant in the room.”
During that meeting, aboriginal achievement was discussed, he said.
“A common problem for each district is how to reach out to aboriginal parents and get them to support their children’s education. But aboriginal parents still remember the oppression of the days of residential schools when the government tried to eradicate what they considered were superstitious values of the aboriginal traditions surrounding family and community.”
“I couldn’t help but thinking that this kind of oppression is happening again 150 years later,” he continued, as people in the gallery of the board room began to audibly gasp. “The BC school act, the Canadian Charter of Human Rights, and international law…”
“Someone stop him,” an audience member said.
“Let him speak,” another one said.
“…uphold the right of parents to direct all aspects of their children’s education,” Neufeld continued. “The Ontario Court of Appeal in a recent decision in November stated clearly: ‘The right of parents to care for their children and make decisions for their well being, including decisions on education, is primary and the states authority is secondary to that parental right.’”
Earlier in the evening, he also questioned Dan Bibby, who was at the meeting for a presentation on the many positive partnerships between the Ministry of Children and Families Chilliwack and the Chilliwack School District.
Neufeld stated that the BC Teachers Federation policy is that “if a child confesses to a school district employee that they have feelings of same sex attraction or is transgender, the policy is that they will not notify the parents but will instead call in your ministry to do an evaluation.”
Many people against the teacher resource called SOGI 123 believe that teachers are not allowed to tell parents if a student identifies as transgender, because student confidentiality is listed on the SOGI 123 website.
Neufeld asked Bibby what the protocols, services, and protections are to “restore harmony to the family,” in situations where a child announces they are gay, lesbian or transgender.
Bibby said there hasn’t been a situation like that he’s aware of. He referred to Section 13 of their act, that lays out policy that staff would in fact interview the children, and parents, and make an assessment from there.
“From my knowledge, we’ve never had a case where we’ve assessed from that situation.”