EDITOR’S NOTE: As sexual orientation and gender identity is again back in front of the Central Okanagan School District, we are republishing this letter from Feb. 20, 2018 as it remains relevant.
It is with some disappointment that I write this response.
I was hopeful that other voices would jump in before I had the chance. The bigoted and misinformed vitriol that has been spewed by those supporting Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld must be challenged.
The idea that “he is entitled to his opinion” is ludicrous.
Would he be entitled to his opinion if he said the education system should teach Indigenous students to act white? Would he be entitled to his opinion if he said that female students should stick to home economics and textiles classes? Would he be entitled to his opinion if he said science teachers were required to teach creationism? If those statements sound absurd, continue reading.
You see all of these ideas were part of the education system in the past. Indigenous students were, according to Canadian government policy, going to be turned white.
Female students were told that they were to prepare for a life of being a wife and mother. Scientists were told to teach a religious belief.
Neufeld is hiding behind the idea that his bigoted viewpoint should be
protected. Further, Neufeld is spouting misinformation regarding the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity education, which is part of the Education Ministry’s health curriculum. It appears that Neufeld and his cult of haters believe that the SOGI curriculum is designed to convert students from heterosexual to some other orientation. Nothing could be further from the reality.
The curriculum is aimed at all students and is rooted in the idea that all Canadians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, deserve a safe place to go to school, to live, to work, and to flourish. The underlying tenants of the curriculum are recognizing diversity and promoting acceptance.
The science is very clear, the entire human population is spread across a spectrum when it comes to sexual orientation. No amount of hateful denying will change the facts. If Neufeld and his supporters would like to start a private school that strictly adheres to their hateful dogma and teaches discriminatory ideas, they should give that a try.
Neufeld should do as his fellow board members, much of his community, and the minister of education have asked, and resign.