Education Secretary DeVos once again dodges questions about discrimination toward LGBTQ students at schools

NEW YORK – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today condemned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for once again refusing to affirm that schools that receive funding from the federal government would be held accountable for discriminating against LGBTQ students. DeVos’s statement was an answer to Senator Jeff Merkley’s question on the issue and came before a subcommittee within the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. Her statement immediately follows her previous testimony last month where she argued for states’ rights above the rights and protections of LGBTQ students in federally funded private schools. 

Watch: Secretary DeVos Once Again Dodges Questions About Discrimination Towards LGBTQ Students

"By once again turning a blind eye to LGBTQ students who experience discrimination in school, Secretary DeVos continues to prove why she was the wrong choice to lead our nation's education system,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “DeVos once claimed she was an LGBTQ ally, but has now supported back to back policies that would erase LGBTQ students from classrooms. If she wants to be known as more than an anti-LGBTQ activist the time is now to reverse course."

Since her controversial confirmation hearing process, which included a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has fallen in line with the Trump Administration’s attempt to erase LGBTQ Americans from the fabric of this nation. In February, DeVos joined the President and Attorney General Jeff Sessions by rescinding guidance that provided protection to transgender students at our nation’s schools.

DeVos’s anti-LGBTQ record extends well before her confirmation as Education Secretary. From contributing more than $200,000 toward efforts to add a marriage equality ban to Michigan’s Constitution to donating money to Focus on the Family, an anti-LGBTQ organization which openly advocates for so-called “conversion therapy” practices, Betsy DeVos’s record shows she will do anything to prevent LGBTQ acceptance from becoming a reality.

GLAAD has been documenting the administration’s systematic erasure of the LGBTQ community and policies intended to support LGBTQ Americans. Click here to visit GLAAD’s Trump Accountability Project.

Background Information: Secretary DeVos’ Anti-LGBTQ History

·         The DeVos family has funded anti-LGBTQ organizations ranging from Focus on the Family, which openly advocates for so-called "conversion therapy," to Bethany Christian Services, an adoption agency that excludes LGBTQ parents and advocates for laws that allow them to do so, and the Heritage Foundation, which strategizes against LGBTQ policy.

·         Allowed the Trump Administration to rollback Title IX protections for transgender students in our nation’s schools.

·         Sat on the board of the anti-LGBTQ Acton Institute from 1995-2005.

·         Framed marriage equality as a "coarsening" driven by "coastal elites": “There is one party that takes millions of dollars from celebrities and elites and in turn enthusiastically embraces their values, that chuckles at or cheers the destruction of our traditions and the coarsening of our culture, and that believes it is no big deal to redefine the most fundamental institution of mankind. But fortunately, there is another party in America that recognizes marriage between one man and one woman as an institution that was created not by man, but by God. That party will not be intimidated by the coastal elites in Hollywood or Boston. That party is not ashamed to stand up for marriage.”

·          Advocated strongly for the passage of a ban on marriage equality in her home state of Michigan, contributing over $200,000 to the anti-LGBTQ campaign.

·         Secretary DeVos' father, Edgar Prince, is one of the founders of the Family Research Council, a viciously anti-LGBTQ organization.

·         Bragged about her wealthy family's ability to buy influence within the Republican Party: "[M]y family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican party…. I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now, I simply concede the point. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment; we expect a good and honest government. Furthermore, we expect the Republican party to use the money to promote these policies, and yes, to win elections."