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BCTF vs. Neufeld: Teacher identities protected by tribunal decision

BC Human Rights Tribunal to protect teachers' identities, but not Neufeld's witnesses
Former Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld has failed in his bid to get a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal complaint against him dismissed.

It's been nearly two years since Barry Neufeld was a school trustee in Chilliwack, but the battles that began when he was in office are still underway. 

There is an upcoming hearing at the BC Human Rights Tribunal, beginning July 4, regarding the BC Teachers' Federation (BCTF) complaint against Neufeld. And leading up to this, lawyers have been laying the groundwork. 

On June 11, the tribunal ruled that while witnesses for the BCTF would have their identities protected, those for Neufeld will not. 

"It is incumbent on this Tribunal to ensure that people can participate in its process safely, without fear that they will be exposed to harm as a result," the decision from tribunal member Devyn Cousineau reads. 

In its application to the tribunal, the BCTF stated that teachers will be giving evidence about "their own sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, and how these aspects of their identities impact their experiences at work." 

Publishing their identities could expose the teachers "threats, harassment, and violence" including "public statements associating them with pedophilia and 'child grooming.'" 

The BCTF submitted evidence of social media posts and news articles that accuse "transgender and 2SLGBTQ+ educators of sexualizing, exploiting, and grooming children."

The BCTF and the tribunal both point out that the upcoming hearing is likely to continue to attract both media and public attention. While the content of the teachers' testimonies won't be redacted, all identifiers will be. 

"The potential that the teachers may be targeted and accused of sexual misconduct towards children is real," Cousineau said. "Such accusations threaten their reputations, as professionals who work daily with children and their families." 

But Cousineau did not find the same to be true for Neufeld's witnesses, and added that Neufeld did not provide adequate explanation for his application. 

"Unlike the BCTF, Mr. Neufeld does not explain who his witnesses are, what type of discrimination and harassment they have endured, and the basis for a concern of retaliation. Without this information, I cannot assess their privacy interests in order to weigh those interests against any potential public interest in publishing their identities," Cousineau wrote. 

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has booked the hearing between the BCTF (on behalf of the Chilliwack Teachers' Association) vs. Barry Neufeld for July 4, all day via a Microsoft Teams video conference. 

According to the BC Human Rights Commission, the tribunal will focus on the question of whether it has jurisdiction over allegations to hate speech published online. This will be Commissioner Kasari Govender's first intervention at the BC Human Rights Tribunal. 

Today (June 24) was the deadline for each party to exchange witness lists, and to provide a brief "will-say" statement for each witness, setting out the anticipated nature of their evidence.

READ MORE: Former Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld loses battle in B.C. Supreme Court

The current complaint was brought forward in 2018, and Neufeld attempted to have it dismissed. He lost that battle in August 2023. 

The BCTF alleges that Neufeld created and published discriminatory homophobic and trans-phobic statements. A sample of Neufeld’s statements in the complaint included the suggestion that the SOGI 123 (Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities) school initiative is an “evil ideology” which affected children’s minds, and “allowing little children to change gender is nothing short of child abuse…”

In another post he suggested that parents supporting their transgender children may have caved into threats by “transgender radicals.”

Neufeld was a trustee on the Chilliwack board of education at the time of the statements. 




Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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