A controversial Chilliwack School District trustee is being blasted for transphobia and disinformation over a Facebook post attacking the World Health Organization and Canada’s top doctor while linking them to transgender issues.
B.C. Minister of Education Rob Fleming says he’s prepared to notify the province’s human rights commissioner about the incident on Monday.
In a Facebook post, Chilliwack School District trustee Barry Neufeld claims the WHO is “perpetrating fear” over COVID-19 before attacking the organization for its positions supporting transgender supportive education and the right to access abortions.
He goes on to call Canada’s chief medical health officer a “major player in the corrupt World Health Organization” while making allegations about her gender, citing suspicions on Wikipedia.
Global News has requested comment from Neufeld on the post. As of Sunday afternoon, the post remained live.
“It’s the height of irresponsibility,” said Fleming, adding the post amounts to spreading “false news in the middle of a pandemic.”
“This person is not just a private citizen, this is somebody who is well-known as an elected official and involved in the responsibilities of elected office, in this case, looking after the well-being of children and youth in his school district.”
Fleming said Neufeld’s comments also fit into a pattern of attacking LGBTQ2 people.
Neufeld has previously come under fire for a series of public and social media comments in which he compared gender transitioning to “child abuse” and called gender confusion a “sexual addiction.”
“It’s particularly reprehensible at a time when the mental health and well-being of our students, all students, LGBTQ students included, is paramount for all of us to be concerned about,” said Fleming.
“So this is just more recklessness and an even higher level of being unhinged, given this trustee’s history of making inflammatory, derogatory and hateful comments.”
WATCH (November 2017): Chilliwack school trustee compares gender transitioning to child abuse
Fleming has previously called on Neufeld to resign but acknowledges the minister has no power to remove a sitting trustee.
Chilliwack School Board chair Dan Coulter called Neufeld’s post a conspiracy theory with a “new twist.”
“I think that’s troubling given the position that our school district, the Ministry of Education, the public health officer have taken, as well as what we’re trying to teach students about the whole (COVID-19) situation,” he said.
“And then underneath that is obviously layered transphobia and using, I guess, transgender issues as a way of taking a shot at the people who are in charge of COVID or people that are asking us to take social-distancing measures, etc., in particular Theresa Tam.“
Coulter said he wants to see the post come down.
He said he has reached out to Neufeld but hasn’t heard back.
“There are a few actions that the (school board) can do,” he said.
“First and foremost, we need to discuss the situation with Trustee Neufeld and then sort of make some decisions where we can go from there as a starting point.”
Transgender rights advocate Kaitlyn Bogas called Neufeld’s comments hate speech.
She said coming from an elected official, the comments carry more weight and make it difficult for trans people to even exist in a community.
“That’s the kind of thing perpetuated that we’re either crazy or weirdos or, you know, not true humans,” said Bogas.
“If you’re in an elected position, with those kind comments, there should be a mechanism in whatever jurisdiction you’re elected in that you could be removed.”