Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, two trustees at the Vancouver School Board, were publicly reprimanded last week after misrepresenting the school board’s anti-homophobia policy.
The trustees were already the focus of some controversy when a video surfaced online showing them talking to supporters before last November’s elections. In the video, Denike and Woo claimed that the Vancouver School Board was about to amend their anti-bullying policies with controversial new measures regarding sexual orientation, bringing it in line with a “much worse” one in Burnaby. The best way to stop this contentious policy, they said, was to vote for them.
There was a little problem with this claim, mind you: Anti-homophobia measures had been added to the Vancouver School Board’s policies on bullying seven years earlier, in 2004.
This video couldn’t have surfaced at a worse time for Denike and Woo, who were already in a bit of hot water for appearing in a separate video for the National Organization for Marriage, one of the United State’s largest and most powerful anti-gay lobby groups. In a documentary-style spot posted on the NOM website, the two trustees spoke to cameras on school board property, implying that same-sex marriage had resulted in gay pornography being shown to schoolchildren.
Uh… Same-sex marriage caused gay porn to be shown to schoolchildren? Let’s reflect a moment on the likelihood of that being true.
Well, if you’re of sound mind (NOM supporters clearly excluded), you’ve come to the correct conclusion: No such repulsiveness ever happened (nor could it; it’s absurd). In reality, a third-party website address listed in a printed teacher’s resource booklet had sponsored a provocative and sexually suggestive public service announcement intended to help increase HIV testing in the adult gay community. The web address, which was never provided to students directly, was later removed from the booklet.
To his credit, Denike claims that the National Organization for Marriage had misled him and used his expression of concerns about the teacher’s resource booklet completely out of context. (I’d say!) He later had the video pulled from NOM’s site through legal action.
Now, did Mr. Denike and Madam Woo deserve to be publicly condemned by the board for these videos? Considering they essentially lied about the board’s policy in order to get votes, I’d say that’s an appropriate action.
Denike and Woo, humbled by the censure, have since apologized for misrepresenting the school board’s policies and are now focusing on more important issues…
Nah! I’m totally kidding. Refusing to apologise, Denike actually told the media that the censure has “impacted [his] human rights” and that he’s speaking with his lawyers. Stay tuned, kids! This might be a long one.
(Hat tip to the especially amazing Ryan Clayton for the story.)