Oct 7 – I applaud Barry Neufeld for working to achieve greater insight into the mental health needs of children

October 7, 2018 – not yet published

Dear Editor:

I have attended almost every school board meeting since January including the last one where the board chose to highlight Barry Neufeld’s expense account. I have witnessed consistent political posturing and the installation of a program that nobody knew anything about but accepted anyway. I have witnessed efforts to prevent discussion of and evaluation of SOGI 123 resources and I have watched the Ministry and the media highlight biased information and endlessly repeat false narratives about the need to respect everyone and everything, including religion while doing just the opposite. Barry Neufeld has been the only one willing to sacrifice his comfort in order to keep his integrity. And while it is the board that requested Barry refrain from participating as a fully functioning member, it is Barry that is incorrectly being criticized for that restriction.

And while the value of the expenses of other trustees has never been questioned and even though Barry did not charge a penny more than the actual costs incurred at the conference, the other trustees thought it appropriate to question Barry publicly. Heather Maahs made it clear the board was not acting in accordance with the policy they wrote but were acting with political intent and personal bias. The board responded by requesting the policy on expenses be rewritten, after the fact, to justify their actions.

I applaud Barry Neufeld for working to achieve greater insight into the mental health needs of children, which is foundational to the questions and concerns parents have about SOGI 123. For the other trustees to dismiss those concerns just demonstrates how parents are not being heard by the current board. Teachers are being asked to provide greater social and emotional attention to their students and it is important for them as well to understand the impact of SOGI 123 on already challenged students in their care. It is vital FIRST, that we DO NO HARM.

I am grateful for men, who choose to act with integrity regardless of the cost, in effort, image, or comfort, and even his own legitimate expense account.

Sandra Devenney
Chilliwack. B.C.