Chilliwack school trustee slammed over transphobic coronavirus post

May 11 2020, 10:36 am

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld came under fire this weekend after sharing a post on Facebook linking the COVID-19 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 attacks Canada’s top doctor Theresa Tam.

“Dear Chilliwack voters: What were you thinking when you elected this person to govern your public schools?” tweeted Patti Bacchus, former Vancouver School Board chair.

“I think overall, the post is disgusting,” Chilliwack School District chair Dan Coulter told Daily Hive in a phone interview.

Not only does Neufeld undermine the school district’s messaging on safety measures for the pandemic, it makes trans kids, parents, and staff members feel unwelcome, Coulter said.

“I think it’s dangerous for children that you have someone who’s supposed to be leading a school district basically saying coronavirus is a hoax,” he said.

“Obviously, if you are a trans person this would be horrific,” Coulter said. “This is not the view of the board … We believe in inclusivity.”

Neufeld has long been known to hold anti-trans views and opposed the province’s new gender and sexual identity inclusive education resources known as SOGI 123.

Before the last election, Coulter tried to have Neufeld resign. He says the his working relationship with the trustee is “strange, to say the least.”

He added that the board and the Ministry of Education have limited powers to discipline Neufeld or remove him from the board.

“I would like to reassure (families) this is certainly not the way the district or the board of education feels,” Coulter said. “I cannot disavow the comments strongly enough.”

Education Minister Rob Fleming plans on raising the issue of Neufeld’s anti-trans comments with BC’s Human Rights Tribunal, the minister said in a statement to Daily Hive.

“His recent comments are dangerous to kids and they have no place in our society or within B.C.’s school system,” Fleming said. “In our province, where human rights are valued and enshrined in law, no one should be subjected to hatred and bigotry.”

Fleming added he’s called for Neufeld’s resignation in the past and is doing so again after his weekend comments.

Others weighed in online, telling Neufeld to take his conspiracy theories elsewhere and calling him “disgusting, hateful, and bigoted.”