Friday, November 21, 2014

Queer View on Vancouver's 2014 Civic Election

Tim Stevenson
A lack of LGBT representation amongst Vancouver's newly elected school and park board trustees has many in our community wondering how progressive they will be in the coming years, particularly on LGBT-related issues. A new article by Xtra's Rob Easton asks: Will NPA-led park and school boards remain queer-friendly? Good question. There are some concerns that the school board may once again fall prey to the influence of religious bigots whose fear and ignorance have previously created strife and controversy.

Rob Easton reports:
[Vancouver, British Columbia] Of the 11 openly LGBT candidates who ran for seats on Vancouver’s city council, school and park boards Nov 15, only one — Councillor Tim Stevenson — was elected. Incumbent park board commissioner Trevor Loke, who with Stevenson was one of two gay people elected in Vancouver’s last civic election, three years ago, fell about 1,400 votes short of keeping his seat this time. 
That has left both the school and park boards without direct gay representation at the commissioner or trustee level. Given the opposition faced by the Vancouver School Board (VSB) when it amended its anti-homophobia policy in June to make it more supportive of trans students, one former school trustee is now concerned about the amendments’ implementation. 
“I just worry there’s no one there who will champion the policy, really work to ensure that it has the funding that it needs to really be implemented and carry it through,” says Jane Bouey, who served two terms on the school board, ending in 2011, and ran unsuccessfully for reelection this time. 
Prior to the Nov 15 election, Vision Vancouver held a majority on the school board, with six out of nine seats (after former COPE trustee Allan Wong crossed the floor to join Vision in 2013). Now, the seats are divided evenly at four apiece between Vision and the Non-Partisan Association (NPA), with the Green Party’s new trustee, Janet Fraser, holding the deciding vote. 
Though returning NPA trustee Fraser Ballantyne supported the trans amendments, the NPA made headlines when it kicked former trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Woo out of the party’s caucus for their opposition to the policy changes and for not sharing the party’s “same level of sensitivity and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.” READ MORE