Josephine Zhao, an advocate for San Francisco students, parents and immigrant families

After careful consideration, I have decided to withdraw from the race for school board.

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.

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.

There can be no mixed messages when it comes to transgender rights in our schools.

We must send a message to transgender people, especially transgender children, that is absolutely clear and unequivocal: We support you!

I will step aside at this time to work on the issues that I care about, including this one.

First and foremost, I am an advocate for children, parents, immigrant families and people who struggle to find a voice in our educational system. That is my passion, that is what I do. And rather than let a divisive campaign jeopardize my work or, worse, further divide our communities, I will redouble my efforts to advocate for our families, and our kids, on the front lines.

I will not be used as a tool of division. Some things are more important than a campaign, or a seat on a board.










Josephine Zhao - Public School Mom for SF Families

First, I want to make it crystal clear: I support all gender bathrooms. I support the rights of transgender people, as I support all people.  Second, I want to apologize for my own part in making this more complicated than it needs to be. I have not always been as clear as I need to be on this issue, and my opponents are seizing on that. But make no mistake: I support transgender rights, and I support all gender bathrooms.  Third, as a school advocate, I have always supported all gender restrooms, and the right of transgender people, of all ages, to use the restrooms they are most comfortable using. Fourth, my opponents are attempting to exploit two things: the meanings and contexts that get confused in translation between Chinese and English; and the confusion among many in my community between “all gender/gender-neutral” restrooms(全性別/中性別的洗手間) and “communal” restrooms(同廁同浴 - everyone goes into the same restrooms).

It’s bad enough that my opponents would exploit a sensitive issue on which we actually agree. The real damage is that the communities I am advocating for are exactly those that need the most outreach, information and inclusion.

I am committed to bridging any divide — and I will support the transgender community with all my heart and energy!

I am a parent, advocate, para-educator and advocate for immigrant families, and I will not be bullied by those who seek to tear me down by dividing us. 

首先,我想說清楚:我支持全性別/中性別的洗手間(all gender/gender-neutral bathrooms)。我支持跨性者的權利,因為我支持所有人。其次,我想為自己把事情变得复杂化道歉。我有时说得不够清楚,我的對手因此抓住這個問題不放。但不要搞錯:我支持跨性別者的權利,我支持 “全性別/中性別的洗手間”(all gender/gender-neutral bathrooms)。第三,作為學校的倡導者,我一直支持全性別/中性別的洗手間,以及所有年齡段的跨性別者使用他們最習慣使用的洗手間的權利。

第四,我的對手試圖利用兩件事:在中英文翻譯中混淆的意義和背景,以及許多我的社區的人在 “全性別/中性別” 洗手間(all gender/gender-neutral bathrooms)和 “同廁同浴” (“communal” restrooms)之間的混淆。我的對手試圖通過利用我們大家都同意的敏感問題,這已經夠糟糕了。真正的伤害是,我所倡導的社區正是那些需要最多外展,信息和包容的社區。

我致力於彌合任何分歧 - 我將全心全意地支持跨性別社區!



Josephine Zhao on School Assignment & Enrollment

Do you believe that SFUSD’s school assignment system needs reform? If not, why? If so, how would you change it?

It is a hard act to balance the need for neighborhood schools and racial diversity in school assignment.

There are advantages to both the neighborhood school assignment model and the diversity-oriented lottery assignment model. Historically, SFUSD had tried both models and neither was a full success.  And now, it has rested in a compromise in which neighborhood assignment for kindergarten/elementary schools, and the feeder pattern for the middle schools - where a few nearby neighborhood schools are fed into a middle school to achieve diversity are the norms.

There are advantages for neighborhood school assignment - it provides a sense of community...

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An immigrant’s path for progressive leadership

[This OpEd was originally published in San Francisco Examiner.]

I am a public school mom of two daughters, a longtime parent advocate, an immigrant who grew up very poor in mainland China, and an experienced paraeducator/family liaison in the San Francisco Unified School District. As a progressive leader in the immigrant community, I am running for school board in order to ensure all children, including LGBTQ students, have the opportunity to succeed in our city. I support equal rights and access for ALL students. My values drive me to advocate that every student, of all background and needs, reach their fullest potential.

My family moved to the City ten years ago because my older daughter Genevieve had kidney failure at the age of 4. While we were fighting for her life, we also had to find housing and schools for my daughters. It was so heart rending. We were implicitly denied housing, and unable to enroll Genevieve at a school near our home or hospital. After Genevieve got a transplant and recovered, I became a citizen so I could find answers for why it is so hard for a family to get by in the City.

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