Current Affairs

Brave 14-year-old makes trans flag protest against Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Nick Duffy May 30, 2018
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A 14-year-old student stood up to Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, by wearing a transgender flag when she was visiting their school.

DeVos, a billionaire Trump appointee who has no qualifications in education, has overseen Trump administration actions to roll back civil rights protections for transgender children.

The Trump cabinet official, who confirmed in February that the Department will begin to ignore discrimination complaints made by transgender students, has been strongly criticised by LGBT rights activists.

A young teen made a powerful protest against Devos this week, as she visited Grand Rapids Public Museum School.

14-year-old eighth grade student Torin Hodgman, who uses gender neutral pronouns, quietly donned the flag during their brief meeting with DeVos.

Speaking to Michigan Live, Hodgman said: “Public schools are a place for all children.”

They noted that trans kids are at far greater risk of suicide and self harm, according to statistics.

The student said: “Out of all LGBTQ [kids]… and actually all teenagers, transgender and questioning people have a higher rate of suicide and deaths than anybody else.”

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty)

In March this year, DeVos defended her stance on transgender children’s rihgts, when she was challenged over her policy during a House Appropriations subcommittee.

In her response, DeVos confirmed that the department will limit any action against discrimination to a literal reading of discrimination law, which states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be subjected to discrimination under any education program.”

While the Obama administration had taken a proactive interpretation of this to also tackle homophobic and transphobic discrimination, DeVos stated she would not do so unless directed to by Congress.

She said: “We have continued to protect the rights of students as defined under Title IX, we have continued to do so, and consider those matters brought through the Office for Civil Rights.

“We will continue to do so until either the Supreme Court or Congress clarifies the law with regards to access to bathrooms, athletic locker rooms and athletic teams.

“That is not an area where law has been clarified. This department is not going to make law, we are going to enforce laws that we are given to do.”

United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, said at the time: “As Secretary DeVos fumbles through another congressional hearing, her record of walking-back LGBTQ protections and actively refusing to aid transgender students facing discrimination speaks for itself.

“It is long past time for Secretary DeVos to reverse course and clearly denounce policies that target LGBTQ students. Our Secretary of Education should be fighting for all students, not actively making life more difficult for transgender students.”

Related topics: betsy devos, devos, Donald Trump, Gay, LGBT, Trump, US

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