Betsy DeVos won’t say if it’s OK for schools to discriminate against gay kids
The US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is under fire, after she declined to say whether she opposes discrimination against LGBT+ students.
DeVos was challenged on the issue while testifying before a House subcommittee on Tuesday (March 26), after repeatedly saying that schools should not discriminate on the basis of “race, religion, and national origin.”
Betsy DeVos won’t say if she thinks discrimination against LGBT+ students is OK
Democrat Mark Pocan, one of the few openly gay members of Congress, asked: “I noted you never mentioned sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Do you think it’s alright for a school to discriminate based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity?”
.@repmarkpocan: Do you think it’s alright for a school to discriminate based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity?
DeVOS: We have laws that cover discriminatory efforts.
POCAN: … is that a yes or no?
DeVOS: We follow the law. pic.twitter.com/z5ubS0zvt7
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 26, 2019
DeVos responded: “We have laws that cover discriminatory efforts, and our office for civil rights has continued to be very diligent in investigating any allegation of discrimination and will continue to do so.”
Pushed for a personal opinion about discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, DeVos replied: “We follow the law as this body has defined.”
Trump administration has rolled back education protections
Federal law does not explicitly ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Obama administration had enforced protections for LGBT+ students by broadly interpreting the wording of Title IX, a civil rights provision that outlaws sex-based discrimination—however the practice has been ended in the Trump era.
DeVos previous confirmed that the department will limit any action against discrimination to a literal reading of the law, which states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be subjected to discrimination under any education program.”
The department has since ceased investigating allegations of discrimination against transgender students.
David Stacy, HRC Director of Government Affairs, said: “From day one of this administration, Betsy DeVos has undermined the safety, dignity, and civil rights of LGBTQ students.
“Sadly, it is not the least surprising that the Secretary of Education is unwilling to give a direct answer on whether or not she thinks discrimination against students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is wrong.
“Regardless of what her view of the state of current law is, this should be an easy answer for any adult who believes no child should feel unsafe or unwelcome in their schools and communities.”