A frontrunner in San Francisco’s school board elections withdrew from the race Monday after comments she wrote about transgender persons surfaced, inciting backlash among the LGBTQ community.
Candidate Josephine Zhao wrote on the Chinese messaging service WeChat that two of her transgender opponents were fighting to be the “first transgender commissioner” and also mentioned “three homosexuals” in the running, the San Fransisco Chronicle reported Monday.
“Their highest priority for education would be to spread ideologies,” Zhao also wrote about the candidates, according to the Chronicle.
Zhao maintains that her comments have not been accurately presented by the media.
“While I strongly believe that my positions on a variety of issues have been twisted, misrepresented and used to tear me down personally, I also believe that there are more important issues at play,” Zhao wrote on Facebook Monday, announcing her exit from the race.
“I strongly believe that the issue of transgender rights and dignity is larger than any single person’s candidacy for office, including my own. Therefore, I would rather step aside and work for the greater good than allow my candidacy to be a tool of division,” Zhao wrote.
Zhao also posted about her time at a gay pride parade on Twitter Saturday, pointing to the work she’s done within the LGBTQ community.
Great to hang out with my friend @alfred_twu at Oakland Pride and discuss the continuing struggles in both the LGBTQ & the Chinese communities.We both agreed everyone can work together to understand each others’ lives & experiences, and fight for the inclusion for all communities pic.twitter.com/O9LjrsQ8Fc
— Josephine Zhao (@josephinez) September 9, 2018
Prior to her exit from the race, Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener and Democratic Mayor London Breed had endorsed Zhao for the position. (RELATED: World Health Organization: Transgender Individuals Aren’t Mentally Ill, But Video Game Addicts Are)
“While I do not believe that Josephine is transphobic or homophobic, I do believe that her current comments in combination with older, hurtful comments have created an atmosphere of distrust,” Breed said in a Monday statement, according to the Chronicle. “Josephine has made real strides personally in her understanding and support for the LGBT community … but she has more work to do,” he added.
Of the 19 candidates running for the three open seats in the school board elections, Zhao had raised more money than any at $77,000.
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