Vancouver 1st school board candidate breaks with party over SOGI video

Tony Dong says he's quitting Vancouver 1st over the party's opposition to SOGI 123. Supplied

A Vancouver School Board (VSB) candidate has quit the fledgling Vancouver 1st party over a video the party’s mayoral candidate Fred Harding produced on SOGI 123.

SOGI 123 is a resource package designed to help teachers and school administrators reduce discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in their curriculum.

In the video, Harding lays out his concerns with the policy.

“With SOGI, they got it all wrong. Vancouver 1st is opposed to its high-handed rollout,” he said.

“We will advocate on parents that feel alienated by it. Foisting something so controversial, so different, without meaningful consultation is foolish and it is wrong.”

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WATCH: Fred Harding lays out opposition to SOGI 123

That sentiment prompted VSB candidate Tony Dong to break with the party on Friday.

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“Given the intense negative backlash, my name being associated with anti-SOGI websites and just the concerns I’ve received from many of my LGBTQ peers, I’ve decided the principled thing to do would be to distance myself from the party and run as an independent,” Dong told Global News.

Dong said Harding did not consult with the party’s school board candidates before shooting the video.

READ MORE: Richmond School District votes to adopt SOGI 123 program

Dong said he supports the SOGI policy, which he said benefits everyone, not just LGBTQ kids, by teaching acceptance and respect as well as challenging prejudices.

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He added that he doesn’t care if he’s not elected after breaking with the party.

“The record stands that a free, right-wing conservative male stood against a party, betrayed his own party for principle, left partisanship for human rights and finally chose to walk away from discrimination towards inclusivity,” Dong said.

WATCH: Fred Harding posts 2nd video explaining SOGI position

But Harding says his position on SOGI is being misrepresented.

“The position is not what people said I’ve said, the position is what I said,” said Harding on Saturday.

“What I actually said is that the government needs to be communicating, consulting with parents when they’re bringing in curriculum.”

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READ MORE: Duelling rallies in Vancouver over LGBTQ+ inclusive program in schools

Harding said his issue is not with the LGBTQ community but the manner in which the SOGI program has been introduced to schools.

“We’re talking about SOGI 123, not SOGI,” Harding said. “SOGI is a human right, and we absolutely, 1,000 per cent support SOGI.”

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