The presentation of a community hero award to a Chilliwack school trustee with a history of transphobic and controversial views is being slammed by advocates who question the reasoning around the decision and the selection of the recipient.
This week, Barry Neufeld received a community hero award, which contains the text: for going above and beyond to make our community a better place during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The award is signed by Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl.
News of Neufeld’s receipt of the award quickly caused significant backlash from advocates online.
— Nicola Spurling (@NicESpurling) November 16, 2020
What in the actual f***?! How does that even happen?!? Barry deserves a shaming, not a freakin’ award. Absurd. https://t.co/mnNsKVlEG2
— Aaron Heinrich (@aheinrich) November 16, 2020
So now homophobic, transphobic and anti women’s rights dinosaurs get community hero awards… always keeping in class Chilliwack… @markstrahl what the hell is wrong with you!? #bcpoli https://t.co/orjGEqxYgc
— Steph Kall She Her Hers (@StephKall) November 16, 2020
Neufeld’s views have drawn public criticism since at least 2017 when he stated in a Facebook post that “allowing little children to choose to change gender is nothing short of child abuse.”
In the post, which includes a meme of a father and son, and a mother and son, Neufeld took issue with the decision by the former BC Liberal government to instigate a new curriculum “supposedly to combat bullying.”
But that curriculum, he said, “quickly morphed into a weapon of propaganda to infuse every subject matter from K-12 with the latest fad: Gender theory.”
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Neufeld, who has been a school trustee in Chilliwack since 1992, stated in the post that BC’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) program “instructs children that gender is not biologically determined, but is a social construct.”
Earlier this year, Neufeld again came under fire after sharing a post on Facebook linking the pandemic to his transphobic views.
In the now-deleted post, Neufeld suggests people shouldn’t trust the World Health Organization on coronavirus because the organization also supports trans rights. He also attacked Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam.
In response to the criticism over his issuing of the award this week, Stahl issued a statement saying, “these awards in no way serve to endorse any recipient’s personal views, including those of Mr. Neufeld.
Strahl adds that over 100 people in the community were nominated for the awards and that he “did not endorse or oppose any nominations that were received from the community. I did not make any nominations myself.”
My statement on the Chilliwack—Hope Community Heroes Awards: pic.twitter.com/0i8xlYEWnl
— Mark Strahl, MP (@markstrahl) November 16, 2020