Pro-SOGI 123 rally in front of the Chilliwack school board office in January 2018, about the same time the BCTF filed a complaint against Barry Neufeld for his comments against SOGI 123. (Chilliwack Progress file)

Pro-SOGI 123 rally in front of the Chilliwack school board office in January 2018, about the same time the BCTF filed a complaint against Barry Neufeld for his comments against SOGI 123. (Chilliwack Progress file)

Three years later, human rights complaint against Chilliwack trustee still in motion

Human Rights Tribunal moving forward to a hearing against Barry Neufeld

It’s been three years now, and a human rights complaint filed against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld is still churning through the tribunal system.

The complaint was filed by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) on behalf of the local, the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association (CTA) in January 2018. The complaint seeks an order from the BC Human Rights Tribunal that states Neufeld breached the human rights code. It also seeks an order that he refrain from continuing to do so, and an order of payment to a non-profit organization that advocates for LGBTQ youth.

The complaint lists numerous occasions in which Neufeld has used language regarding LGBTQ issues including terms like “child abusers”,“evil ideology” and “biologically absurd theory.” He also has suggested young people who feel they are transgender are experiencing undiagnosed autism.

His comments have drawn criticism and calls for his resignation, but also some support from those who feel the same way. He argued to the tribunal that he has every right to speak openly about a hot topic that the community is discussing.

Most recently, in January 2021, tribunal member Kathleen Smith went over the case and has granted a hearing, albeit with some changes.

She has removed non-LGBTQ teachers from the complaint, as the BCTF did not produce enough evidence to prove discrimination for those employees.

“The … allegations BCTF brought on behalf of CTA members who do not identify as LGBTQ are dismissed,” Smith concluded. “The complainant group will now include only those CTA members who identify as LGBTQ.”

That does not mean those individuals will have to be named, she underlined. Even if a CTA member were to provide testimony, they wouldn’t have to be identified. The tribunal often allows for anonymous identities to be included.

There is no date set for the hearing listed on the tribunal’s 90-day hearing schedule.

READ MORE:Education Minister talks SOGI 123 and the Chilliwack school board election


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jpeters@theprogress.com

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