January 16, 2018 1:34 am
Updated: January 16, 2018 1:35 am

Union files human rights complaint against trustee Barry Neufeld and Chilliwack school board

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The union that represents non-teaching staff at the Chilliwack School District has filed a complaint against the school board and trustee Barry Neufeld for the way it handled comments made against B.C.’s gender identity and sexual orientation curriculum.

“Our members have a right to feel safe and feel included when they go to work,” said Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 411 president Shana Kirkland.

READ MORE: Trans rights activist reaches out to Chilliwack school trustee who compared gender transitioning to ‘child abuse’

The union filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal claiming the board “failed to provide a work environment free of discrimination.”

That was after school trustee Barry Neufeld compared gender transitioning to “child abuse,” and made comments opposing the SOGI 123 curriculum.

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Kirkland pointed to Chilliwack School District policy 402, which says that staffers have the right to “operate, work or learn in an environment free from harassment.”

The board can’t fire Neufeld, she said, but that doesn’t mean the policy doesn’t apply to him.

READ MORE: ‘It’s getting worse’: B.C. Education Minister on Chilliwack school trustee’s LGBTQ comments

“Employees of the board can be disciplined for violating this policy,” the human rights complaint said.

The complaint also noted that the Vancouver School Board (VSB) passed a motion to censure trustees when one of its own, similar policies was violated.

“Imagine going to work every day knowing that someone in a position of authority in your workplace not only thinks of you as an inferior human being because of who you are but is out in the world saying publicly that who you are is what is wrong,” Kirkland said.

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The union seeks $50,000 in compensation to go toward a non-profit that benefits LGBTQ youth. It also wants all board members and senior management go through LGBTQ equality rights training.

The Chilliwack School Board did not offer any comment by press time.

READ MORE: Chilliwack DPAC chair allegedly threatened amid heated LGBTQ policy debate

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