The divisiveness on the Chilliwack school board has reached a whole new level, with two sitting trustees encouraging police action against a third.
At the centre of the issue is a battle over library reading material and its contents – an debate amongst trustees that first began in June when sitting trustee Heather Maahs took issue with ‘All Boys aren’t Blue’ being available at a local school library.
“It desensitizes kids and it’s all in the name of LGBTQ because it’s boy on boy, and I’m talking young boys being depicted in stories with things I’ve never even heard of,” she said on an internet talk show at the time. “It’s bad.”
Most recently, in a Facebook post on Aug. 17, Willow Reichelt argued against banning books with LGBTQ2S+ and anti-racist content, suggesting that “no one advocating book banning in 2022 has any business being involved in public education.”
On Aug. 19 Reichelt returned to Facebook, saying she had received two emails threatening to report her to the RCMP. A post being shared by the Facebook group EXPOSING SOGI 123 threatened the same.
“Are you a parent with children in Chilliwack schools? Are you tired of the pornographic material/books being shown to minors, children under 16? Do you want to DO SOMETHING about it? I am looking for parents in Chilliwack who are willing to file police reports against the trustee pushing these books on our children, Willow Reichelt and anyone else who approved of their use in schools. I am hoping to be ready to file our reports to the sex crimes unit of the Chilliwack RCMP.”
Reichelt grabbed screenshots from trustees Darrell Furgason and Barry Neufeld, who appear to encourage the filing of police reports.
“If you want to get traction on this post, you should post it publicly!” Neufeld wrote. “Be prepared for some nasty pushback, but ALL parents need to know!”
“I am not not surprised about Willow Reichelt’s response to your concerns,” wrote Furgason. “She and the other 3 ‘woke’ Trustees all stand in favour of sexual ‘education’ being taught to young students in our District. I totally agree with your concerns about sexualizing young children, and suggest that you do proceed with your actions with the RCMP.”
In her Facebook response, Reichelt said enough is enough.
“So now two sitting trustees in the span of 24 hours have tried to get me arrested for defending freedom of thought,” Reichelt responded. “A reminder of my supposed crime: I told people to read books and think for themselves.”
Reichelt has been a staunch defender of ‘All Boys aren’t Blue,’ saying it has been given a starred review by Kirkus (Book Review Service) and glowing reviews by School Library Journal, Booklist and the New York Times.
“Diverse representation leads to empathy, compassion, understanding and a sense of belonging,” she said in June, responding to Maahs’ comments. “Sexuality is part of human experience, and some books written for a teen audience contain sexual content. Young-adult fiction presents this content in an age-appropriate manner and tends to focus on the social-emotional aspects.”
The Progress reached out to Neufeld and Furgason for comment, but did not receive a response before this story was published.
The Chilliwack school board election is Oct. 15.
The field of declared candidates includes Reichelt, Maahs, Furgason, Neufeld, David Swankey, Carin Bondar, Teri Westerby, Margaret Reid and Brian Vangarderen.