Chilliwack DPAC chair allegedly threatened amid heated LGBTQ policy debate
The organization representing parents of Chilliwack schoolchildren is raising concerns after its chairperson was allegedly singled out by an elected member of the school board.
Chilliwack District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) chair Justine Hodge says she has been threatened after board Trustee Barry Neufeld wrote an email to followers asking them to push back in the wake of the group’s call for his resignation.
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Neufeld later apologized to people who felt “hurt” by his opinion, but resumed his controversial posts on social media, up to his recent email to supporters, which one parent says “has reached multiple religious extremist groups, including an international group.”
“Some of the e-mails [to Hodge] were pretty horrendous, and a lot of hate speech against LGBT families. And Justine had to go to the police. So an RCMP file has been opened. It’s been rather horrendous,” said parents’ advocate Constance Carriere-Prill.
Global News contacted the Chilliwack RCMP, but has been unable to verify if it is investigating the alleged threats.
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Carriere-Prill said Neufeld is spreading misinformation to his followers, including claims regarding the number of Chilliwack students who have gender dysphoria.
“I don’t believe for one second that he actually has access to that information,” she said.
“But I think what’s even scarier is that he’s simply making it up to try and make his case, because that information is not something a school board would even have access to. Parents would never provide that to a school board.”
In an email, Neufeld disputed whether threats were made, but said the debate had touched a nerve in the community.
“I would like to know what she considers threats. After she received about 15 emails, she went to the RCMP, but they did not see anything illegal. Some people feel very strongly about this and use emotionally charged words to describe it,” he wrote.
Neufeld added that Hodge’s email and office address are publicly available on the school district’s website.
He further criticized the DPAC’s call for his resignation, arguing that the group only represents about half of Chilliwack’s schools, and that issues of discipline or suspension should have been dealt with through private, official channels, not via the media.
-With files from Charmaine de Silva