Vancouver 1st school-board candidate Tony Dong announced today he’s resigning from the upstart party and will run as an independent, although his party affiliation is already printed beside his name on election ballots.
Dong says his decision comes in response to a video of Vancouver 1st mayoral candidate Fred Harding denouncing B.C.'s school sexual-orientation and gender-identity policy (SOGI). It’s not clear in the video if Harding is referring to the Vancouver School Board’s SOGI policy, the Ministry of Education’s requirement to have such policies, or the SOGI123 learning resource.
In the video, Harding says “SOGI got it all wrong” and refers to its “high-handed rollout.” Saying SOGI is “foolish and wrong”, Harding says Vancouver 1st will defend parents “who demand more control over the education of their loved ones”.
Dong, 22, told the Georgia Straight that he found the video to be "abhorrent and disgusting" and contrary to years of progress on human rights and protections for LGBTQ people. He said party officials told him Vancouver 1st “does not support SOGI123”.
Dong said he believes the Harding video was released to appeal to newcomer voters from China and that it was produced and posted without consultation with all the party’s candidates.
Calling the video “crass and stupid", Dong says discrimination against LGBTQ people causes real human suffering that needs to be addressed.
“I am hereby revoking my association with the Vancouver 1st party and slate and will be running as an independent in this municipal election from this point onward,” Dong said in a statement emailed to this columnist Friday (October 12) afternoon.
Here is the text of the Dong’s statement:
"My name is Tony Dong. I was one of Vancouver 1st's candidates for school board trustee. I am a middle class, right-winged, conservative-minded security manager, consultant, and university student.
Despite my political leanings,I find that the recent videos published by the Vancouver 1st party and leadership with a anti-SOGI stance are wholly inconsistent with my views.
I support the SOGI policy and the SOGI 123 curriculum unequivocally. I believe that it is a much needed resource for a historically marginalised and vulnerable population.
I am hereby revoking my association with the Vancouver 1st party and slate and will be running as an independent in this municipal election from this point onward.
Talk of "consultation with parents", and labelling the curriculum as "controversial" and speaking of defending "parental rights" draws painful parallels with other notable civil rights cases in history—Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483, Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1.
To put it plainly, there has been a rather savage history of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and I will not stand with a party who does not see a priority in ameliorating it and supporting inclusive policies aimed at furthering human rights obligations."More