As a gay Chinese woman, and a daughter of first generation immigrants, my journey coming out has been a struggle, complicated by social and cultural misalignment between my parents and myself. The recent controversy with Josephine Zhao, where both the Chinese and LGBTQ communities came seemingly to a crash, crossed an intersection that is all too familiar. Unfortunately, the conversations surrounding Josephine’s withdrawal from her school board race did not take into consideration the social context of what she and I both know – that many in the Chinese and broader immigrant community still have a long way to go to accept people who love like me. The things she’s said are wrong but we should use this opportunity to bridge this gap rather than further alienating immigrant communities.
I have dedicated my life to LGBTQ activism but I’m not yet out to my entire family. Having my family’s love and acceptance has been a challenge because my coming out is a coming out for them as well. This is further underscored by the difficulty I’ve experienced reconciling being gay while still honoring my family name. Knowing this pain, however, drives my activism and my focus on bridging these two communities that I belong to – LGBTQ and immigrant – whose views and values can be so disparate.
When I met Josephine, we found common ground in our cultural backgrounds. My parents and I were not speaking at the time because of my sexuality. She devised a plan to guide my parents toward full acceptance. Due to her efforts and some helpful intervention from my grandmother, my relationship with my parents today has improved immensely. Instead of resenting them for struggling with my sexuality, I realized that loving my parents means giving them the time and space to progress in their beliefs. Others deserve our patience too.Read more
Josephine Zhao for School Board 2018
Josephine is a public school mom, an engaged community leader, and a passionate advocate for students, parents, and public schools. She is a single mother of two girls enrolled in San Francisco public schools and has been deeply involved in the public school community since 2009.
A firm believer in the power of community, Josephine has been an ardent leader in the PTA, on the English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC), and the School Site Council (SSC) for several years. On the San Francisco Board of Education’s Parent Advisory Council she strove to ensure parents from all backgrounds had a seat at the table when policy is being discussed and developed. When serving on Mayor Breed's Education Policy Transition Team, she advocated for a citywide Meaningful Outreach and Engagement effort to educate all communities on social justice issues.
Josephine immigrated to the United States to pursue higher education and knows first-hand the power a quality education can have in changing lives. As a champion for our students, she was a key advocate in the successful campaign to add Geometry to SFUSD’s summer course curriculum for 10th grade students in 2017, and became a recognized leader in finding options to college-bound students who were delayed access to advanced math in 8th grade.
In addition to her advocacy for public schools, Josephine is a community builder who has founded two nonprofit organizations since 2011. The first, AsianAmericanVoters.org focuses on educating and organizing San Francisco’s Asian American communities around the subjects of education, housing, and quality of life and anti-discrimination issues. The second, BetterHousingPolicies.org, provides training to immigrant housing providers on ethical standards, translation services, conflict resolution between tenants and landlords, and assistance for first-time homebuyers when navigating the process of purchasing a new home.
Josephine holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from Colorado State University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from University of Northern Colorado, and is a graduate of Emerge California. She currently works for Hoover Middle School as the school/family liaison.
Josephine will draw on her unique experience as a public school mom, district employee and parent advocate. She deeply understands the needs of students, parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and the school district. Josephine is running for the San Francisco School Board because she believes all of these stakeholders can work together to make fantastic public schools that serve the entire community.
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