A current public debate regarding the rights of a transgender student at a Westside public high school has caused elected school trustees to invoke risk to property values to shore up their bigoted side of the argument. They claimed that “senior people in the real estate industry” supported their viewpoint, but they did not name those people (and it is not clear whether any such views had actually been expressed by any real estate salespeople).
By virtue of the prominence of Vancouver RE values in this remarkable debate, we document it here, for the chronological record. Reminiscent, of course, of the UBC Hospice debate (where sanity fortunately prevailed).
By virtue of the inflammatory nature of the debate, and because we do not ride shotgun on comments on this blog every hour of every day, we have chosen to close comments for this post. It’s here simply as a marker on the very long and winding road that is the Vancouver RE saga.
Keep well all.
Peace. Love. (and moon-age daydreams of 1960’s RE valuations…)
Entire Vancouver Sun Blog article reproduced verbatim below:
‘Vancouver school trustees turfed after event linking real estate, unisex washrooms’
– Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun, 14 Jun 2014
“The Non-Partisan Association expelled two of its elected school trustees from caucus Friday after they held a news conference and claimed leading realtors are upset the school board’s proposed policies on transgender students may reduce real estate prices.
The NPA released a statement late Friday afternoon declaring it had formally expelled Sophia Woo and Ken Denike “given that the two have chosen to follow their own course in various matters without consulting with the other members of caucus.”
“The caucus has concluded that Denike and Woo do not share the same level of sensitivity and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.”
During a raucous news conference in a Chinese restaurant Friday, Woo and Denike condemned the way Vision trustees on school board are trying to bring in a policy to protect transgender students from discrimination and ostracization.
Parent Jane Wang, sitting beside Woo and Denike, said the transgender policy that is scheduled to go before the board on Monday is a threat to her two young children and those of many other parents, some of whom “were close to emotional collapse” at a recent public meeting where the transgender policy was debated.
Wang, an associate professor in engineering at the University of B.C., has already placed her two children on a waiting list for a private school.
Wang does not want them to have to deal with the possibility a transgender public-school student could, under the proposed policy, enter either a boys’ or girls’ washroom.
Asked to provide the names of what Denike said were “senior people in the real estate industry who are expressing real concerns” about the effects of the proposed transgender policy, neither Woo nor Denike would provide any names.
However, the first sentence of a release that Woo and Denike put together to draw journalists to the news conference at Flamingo House Chinese Restaurant said:
“Realtors express concern that a revised policy on sexual orientation and gender identities could negatively impact enrolment of international students and West Side students in Vancouver’s public schools.”
One parent told The Sun her friend has already returned with her child to China because of the proposed transgender policy.
Asked if realtors are concerned that foreign parents will stop buying houses or condos for their children to live in while they attend school in Vancouver, Denike said West Side realtors know there is strong “competition” for international students, whose offshore parents might avoid Vancouver schools in the future.
There are 1,170 fee-paying foreign students in Vancouver public schools, said Denike, the board’s longest-serving trustee.
Woo and Denike said the realtors they talked to were mostly concerned about “the quality of education” public school students would receive in light of what they said is a flawed, rushed new transgender policy.
But Denike, in response to a question, said the realtors may also be concerned about declining property values.
A few hours after the two NPA trustees finished their press conference, Vision Vancouver released a statement “calling upon the NPA to condemn disturbing comments” made by Denike and Woo, in which Vision maintained the trustees “suggested that support for the rights of LGBTQ students could somehow harm property values.”
School board chair Patti Bacchus, of Vision, said: “Vancouver is known throughout the world for our commitment to a learning environment that is safe and inclusive for students of all backgrounds, including LGBTTQ students.”
Bacchus urged the NPA to “apologize for in any way suggesting that LGBTTQ students or their rights could have a negative impact on our community, and I hope all NPA elected officials and prospective mayoral candidates will condemn these remarks.”
At the news conference at the Cambie Street restaurant, roughly two dozen-ethnic Chinese parents who had squeezed into a side room of the facility to support Woo and Denike clapped enthusiastically when one East Asian parent stood up and shouted:
“How would you feel if you had a daughter in the washroom at one of these public schools and a transgendered student – maybe a girl, maybe a boy? – walked in? How would you feel?”
The man, dressed in suit and tie, would not identify himself.
Visibly tearful, Enda Yua said in an interview with The Vancouver Sun her friend was so upset about the transgender policy that last week she pulled her child out of a Vancouver public school and they flew home together to mainland China.
“I’m so sad. I don’t want my friends to leave,” said Yau, who lives on the West Side of Vancouver.
“My friends say to me: ‘I feel so bad. I shouldn’t have come to Vancouver, to Canada. I thought it was a democracy.’ In the Chinese community there is very serious concern about this policy. This policy makes transgendered kids too special. It gives them an extra shell that will keep other students away from them.”
Yau said Chinese people come to Canada with “very old traditional conservative values” and that Canadian policy makers have to respect that.
Trustee Woo told the room of reporters and Chinese supporters, some of who later gave flowers to Woo and Denike, that she has been overwhelmed in the past two months by the volume of complaints from worried parents. “I’m concerned many of them will send their children to be students in other school districts or other provinces.”
In an interview Lana Liu said she has been part of a group which has gathered 4,000 signatures protesting the school board’s proposed transgender policy. While Liu said petition signers have been “mostly Chinese,” she noted some parents from Iranian, South Asian, Caucasian and other ethno-cultural backgrounds are also upset.
Bill Dick, managing broker for Macdonald Realty in Vancouver, said he is not aware the VSB’s transgender policy has become a real estate issue. “There hasn’t been any discussion in my office, and we have 175 realtors in Vancouver.”
A spokesman for the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, who declined to be identified, said the first they have heard about alleged realtors’ complaints about the transgender policy was in Friday afternoon phone calls from media outlets following up Denike and Woo’s comments.”