Losing Bets

Betsy DeVos refuses to say schools shouldn’t discriminate against queer people

Noted dimwit and US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has attracted controversy yet again for refusing to oppose discrimination against LGBTQ students.

During her testimony before a House subcommittee on March 26, DeVos repeatedly stated that schools would not discriminate based on “race, religion, and national origin.” Her careful wording prodded Congressman Mark Pocan–one of the few out-gay members of the legislature–to confront DeVos’ omission of sexual orientation and gender identity head-on.

“I noted you never mentioned sexual orientation or gender identity,” Pocan observed. “Do you think it’s alright for a school to discriminate based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity?”

Related: Betsy Devos: If states want to discriminate against LGBTQ students, that’s fine by me 

“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,” DeVos said. When Pocan prodded her again to address the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, DeVos again punted: “We follow the law as this body has defined.”

It’s worth noting that current federal statutes do not ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and that DeVos has her own history of homophobia. The Trump administration, for its part, has shown open hostility towards the queer community, especially transgender people. Under DeVos’ tenure, the administration has ended protections for LGBTQ students which the Obama administration had provided under Title IX, and ceased investigations of discrimination against transgender students.

Human Rights Campaign director of government affairs David Stacey slammed DeVos’ position: “From day one of this administration, Betsy DeVos has undermined the safety, dignity, and civil rights of LGBTQ students,” he said in a statement. “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.”