U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos came under fire yesterday after once again refusing to uphold protections for LGBT students in private and charter schools that receive federal funding.
During a U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon asked DeVos: “Are you saying that if you have a private school … that they will not be allowed under your program to discriminate against LGBT students?” DeVos declined to answer directly, instead offering a vague reply: “For schools that receive federal funds, federal law must be followed.”
This certainly isn’t DeVos’ first public snub toward the LGBT community. Years before her appointment, DeVos donated some $50,000 to a ballot committee in her home state of Michigan in efforts to ban marriage equality across the state. Once in Trump’s cabinet, DeVos supported the president’s reversal of Title IX protections for trans and gender-nonconforming students in America’s public schools.
Anti-LGBT sentiment runs deep in the DeVos family: DeVos’s father, Edgar Prince, was a principal founder of the Family Research Council, an organization that denounces homosexuality and promotes conversion therapy. The DeVos family is a longtime financial supporter of other famous anti-LGBT causes, including the Focus on the Family Foundation, which deems transgender people “mentally ill.”
After yesterday’s events, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis chimed in, calling DeVos’ refusal to defend the rights of LGBT students “[proof of] why she was the wrong choice to lead our nation’s education system.”
“DeVos once claimed she was an LGBTQ ally, but has now supported back-to-back policies that would erase LGBT students from classrooms,” Ellis wrote in a press release. “If she wants to be known as more than an anti-LGBT activist the time is now to reverse course.”