British Columbia

Chilliwack school trustee: Allowing children to 'change gender is nothing short of child abuse'

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld is facing criticism after denouncing members of B.C.'s education system as "radical cultural nihilists" for their policies on gender rights and education.

Former Vancouver school board chair calls for trustee's resignation following remarks

Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld took to Facebook Monday to say 'the BC Ministry of Education has embraced the LGBT lobby and is forcing this biologically absurd theory on children in our schools.' (Chilliwack School District)

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld is facing widespread criticism after denouncing members of B.C.'s education system as "radical cultural nihilists" for their policies on gender rights and education in a Facebook post Monday.

"At the risk of being labelled a bigoted homophobe, I have to say that I support traditional family values and I agree with the College of Pediatricians that letting little children choose to change gender is nothing short of child abuse," wrote Neufeld.

In May, Psychology Today wrote that the group Neufeld referred to, the American College of Pediatricians, is "a small but clever anti-LGBT group [that] created a legit-sounding name." 

On its website, the college "urges health-care professionals, educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex."

Requests for an interview with Neufeld went unanswered

Swift criticism

Hours after the post appeared, former Vancouver school board chair Patti Bacchus tweeted that Neufeld should apologize, and called for his resignation.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said trustees can have their own opinions, but the province's public education system is one that values human rights, democracy and inclusion.

"We have very good consensus around the entire school system, around the need to eliminate discrimination to counter bullying," said Fleming. 

"We are in the fifth year of our erase bullying strategy, where we very much looked at some of the harassment and fear that gay and lesbian students and transgender students in particular, have experienced in our school system, and there was a consensus to eliminate that."

All B.C. schools have anti-bullying policies that include explicit references to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Facebook reacts

Neufeld's post drew widespread criticism on Facebook.

"Given your position in leadership, you should know better than to quote a widely discredited pseudo-science source in order to publish hateful material," wrote Morgane Oger.

"Is it safe to assume that you are stepping down as trustee? And if so, when will you submit your resignation to the board?" wrote Jared Mumford.

In an apparent attempt to show how times have changed, Neufeld's post included a meme that quoted kids and parents from 1997 and 2017, contrasting a father, supposedly justified in not allowing his son to have his ears pierced in 1997 — to a son today, telling his mother "I think I am supposed to be a girl."

Neufeld included this meme with his Facebook post.

Neufeld ended the post by denouncing members of B.C.'s education system for their policies on gender rights education — and said he no longer wants to be part of that system.


Cathy Kearney is a digital journalist with CBC News Vancouver.