WATCH ABOVE: The Non-Partisan Association removed two school board trustees from its caucus after controversial comments about a proposed LBGT policy for Vancouver schools.
Vancouver School Trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Woo have been expelled from the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) Caucus.
The NPA Caucus announced the decision Friday afternoon over comments made about the LGBTQ+ community.
“We no longer believe they share the same values that the rest of the caucus does, and we do have an agreement as how to work together and unfortunately they are not able to do so,” said NPA caucus chair and city councillor Elizabeth Ball.
At a press conference earlier in the day – which the NPA says was unsanctioned – Denike and Woo made some comments to suggest that support for the rights of LGBTQ students could somehow harm property values in Vancouver.
The Vancouver School Board is currently looking at a policy that would see gender neutral bathrooms installed in all school buildings and less segregation between boys and girls during various school activities.
It’s similar to policies already in place in Edmonton and Toronto, but some parents in Vancouver have spoken out against the proposed policy at recent school board meetings.
A vote on the proposal is scheduled for Monday night.
Denike and Woo have consistently opposed the proposal, but hadn’t previously raised the idea it would have a negative economic impact.
That was the last straw for Ball and the NPA caucus.
“We had great concern over a number of things over a long period of time. But we must owe the effort to mitigate, educate and to try to improve the situation before we decided to move forward and take the action we did today,” said Ball.
“It’s not something you can do over night especially when you have a respected trustee who has really served the community and who has worked hard for the LGBT community in the past. We don’t under what’s happened, we are sad for it. But we must move on.
Vision Vancouver called upon the NPA to condemn the comments immediately after the press conference.
“My colleagues and I are incredibly disappointed that the NPA would once again try to play politics at the expense of our students, and this underscores the clear risks of allowing the NPA to take Vancouver backward,” said Vision School Trustee and School Board Chair Patti Bacchus.
WATCH: Bacchus talks to Geoff Hastings on BC1:
Councillor and NPA member Elizabeth Ball said Denike and Woo have been expelled from the Caucus, but not the party. It will be up to the green-light committee and board whether they can run with the party in the next election.
Denike and Woo say they’ll run in November’s election with or without the NPA name behind them. They say they aren’t surprised they were expelled. But they argue more time is needed to study the policy.
“I think there’s kind of a cultural situation where there is basically a position taken that anyone who questions, is therefore, in some ways, anti,” said Denike.
“We are asking for more consultation. We just want to have parents work together with the school board. We can’t have a policy the parents are opposed to,” said Woo.