Students turn their back on Trump’s anti-LGBT Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
Students at a university at which Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos gave a commencement address have turned their backs in a show of protest.
The students at the historically black Bethune-Cookman University also booed and chanted during DeVos’ commencement address.
The university president was forced to come to her defence as the boos got so loud that she was unable to be heard.
Students had planned protests against DeVos’ attendance, particularly because of dealings with historically black colleges and universities.
“We can focus on differences that might divide us or we can choose to listen, be receptive and learn from other experiences and perspectives,” DeVos began.
“In my life, I have endeavoured to do the latter.”
Defending DeVos amid the boos and chants, university president Edison Jackson said: “If this behaviour continues, your degrees will be mailed to you… Choose which way you want to go.”
While students turned their backs on DeVos during her speech, university staff stood up behind her in a show of solidarity.
Boos reached a peak when DeVos mentioned President Trump, and that she said she planned to visit the gravesite of the founder of the university Mary McLeod Bethune.
DeVos attacked “startling polarisation across the United States”, and said the students should approach those with different views with grace.
“We will not solve the significant and real problems our country faces if we cannot brings ourselves to embrace a mindset of grace,” she said.
“We must first listen, then speak, with humility, to genuinely hear the perspectives of those with whom we don’t immediately or instinctively agree.”
Watch the moment DeVos was booed below:
DeVos was confirmed earlier this year much to the dismay of LGBT advocates across the US.
During her confirmation hearing DeVos denied having any authority within her family’s Prince Foundation, which gave more than $10 million sent Focus On the Family, a Christian group that advocates gay ‘cure’ therapy.
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Pushed in the hearing, she had insisted a statement listing her as the foundation’s vice president was “a clerical error”.
When Senator Maggie Hassan asked her to clarify whether “the listing that you were vice president was incorrect”, Mrs DeVos replied: “That is correct.”
The Intercept later alleged that she directly “lied to the Senate”, revealing that Prince Foundation tax filings show she was listed as vice president of the foundation for 13 years, dating from 2001 to 2013.
Despite her history of donations to anti-LGBT causes, DeVos received support from the conservative gay group Log Cabin Republicans.
They insisted: “Ms. DeVos has been maligned in the media as an “anti-gay” activist—allegations directly stemming from her personal views on marriage and contributions from her family foundation. Far from an ‘anti-gay’ firebreather, Ms. DeVos actually has a history of working with and supporting gay individuals.”
The group added: “Ms. DeVos should be commended for proving that differences of opinion related to marriage equality do not equate to anti-gay animus. Log Cabin Republicans stands in support of her nomination for Secretary of Education, and encourages her swift confirmation.”