See the end of this post for an update…
ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 5, 3:32 P.M.: Tonight, the Garden Grove Unified School District board of trustees is scheduled to vote on whether they'll allow organizers of this weekend's Tet Parade to use a district bus and driver, a bus in which school trustees sit and wave to the masses. Usually, this is a gimme, given the Tet Parade is such an important part of Little Saigon cultural life, and Garden Grove's proximity to it. And it's such a formality that the motion to approve is part of the consent calendar.
However, board member Bao Nguyen will not only ask that the motion be pulled off the consent calendar to for discussion, and not only vote no, but will also urge his fellow trustees to vote no and to not participate unless some things change. See, the Tet Parade this year is causing national controversy this year because organizers don't want LGBT Vietnamese to march in the parade, and Nguyen–someone that the Weekly has known for over a decade, and by far the most ethical, humanistic politician Orange County has ever seen–will not stand for Know Nothings of any kind.
"If we were to approve the use of our public school bus in the Tet parade which has banned this LGBT group, I believe we would be violating our District nondiscrimination policies and the Constitution of the State of California, which each member has sworn to uphold," Nguyen posted on Facebook today. "At tonight's school board meeting, I will vote NO on allowing the use of our public school bus and driver in the Tet parade."
Sources tell the Weekly Nguyen will also read a statement tonight to further expand on his thoughts.
LGBT activists–including Laura Kanter, youth director for The Center OC, will also attend the board meeting to urge Nguyen's fellow trustees to pull the buses from the Tet parade and not participate unless parade organizers allow LGBT folks to march in the parade. Should be fun, and see you there!
UPDATE, FEB. 6, 7 A.M.: You know, given the pathetic makeup of most school boards in Orange County, I really thought Bao's effort would go for naught. But amazingly, all of Nguyen's trustees agreed except one (we'll get to that in a bit). On a 4-1 vote, Garden Grove's board of trustees voted to ride in the Tet parade on the condition that organizers allow LGBT Viets to march. If they don't? They won't participate. THAT is democracy!
The sole dissenting vote was Lan Quoc Nguyen, a ally of Little Saigon's would-be king, Van Thai Tran. You might remember Lan as the lunatic who once bragged white and Mexican schoolchildren feared going to school with Vietnamese kiddies because of the latter's inherent superiority. This time around, Lan not only refused to condemn homophobes, but also offered to pay for the school bus and driver on his own dime. Would be HILARIOUS to see Lan ride alone on the bus–and telling.
Bao Nguyen, on the other hand, read the following statement:
When my mother was eight months pregnant, carrying me in her womb, she escaped Vietnam in the dark of the night, through an underground passageway. She was an illegal emigrant, while I was a stowaway. Such an act was a crime punishable by death. So, why take such a risk? Because her homeland was not a place that valued the freedom to differ from how life was defined by others. That was a life marked with fear. However, immense hope led us here from afar, and that hope is alive and well with the freedoms that are protected by the constitution of our great nation and that of our great state of California, my homeland. To honor all the sacrifices made for me, I stand for the freedom to define life for oneself and for the freedom to live without fear.
Like a family, a community is inherently diverse, while the values of unity and seeking understanding holds us together. Acknowledging our differences and being able to celebrate together distinguishes my homeland from my mother's homeland. But I will not forget where I came from. Remembering, a free and democratic society is not necessarily defined by a majority, but defined by how one allows others the same liberties one wishes for oneself. True liberty is marked with such moral values as tolerance, compassion, and acceptance.
At its heart, Tet, the Vietnamese lunar new year celebration, is a gathering of the whole family that extends into the community. It is a time to set the tone for the coming year with formal gestures of mutual respect, abundance, and cheerfulness. So, I'd like to extend my very best wishes to all our families, without leaving anyone out. Happy Tet!
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