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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Betsy DeVos confirmed U.S. Secretary of Education, groups react
From a press release
2017-02-07

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From PFLAG National:

WASHINGTON, DC—PFLAG National—the nation's largest organization uniting families, allies, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ)—issued the following statement from Interim Executive Director Elizabeth Kohm on today's confirmation of Betsy DeVos—decided by a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence—to the post of Secretary of Education of the United States.

"On behalf of the thousands of PFLAG members across the country, who called their Senators to share their stories, experience and concern, we would like to thank those who listened to their constituents and voted NO on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be the next Secretary of Education.

We remain deeply concerned that the protections that are so critical for our children risk being cast aside. The fact that Vice President Pence cast the deciding vote does not assuage our concern that the critical protections for LGBTQ youth and children living with disabilities will continue at the US Department of Education. We are thoroughly disappointed that Ms. DeVos supports policies and procedures that fail to buoy the public education system. We remain concerned about a family track record supporting policies of discrimination including their support of so-called "reparative therapy," which is an ill-informed, damaging message that no educational leader should send to youth.

There is no one more fierce than a PFLAG mama bear, and they—and PFLAGers everywhere—will closely monitor Ms. DeVos' actions , from every zip code across the country. We will expect her to affirm policies and guidance which support youth—including LGBTQ youth, those living with disabilities, and other marginalized youth—with the tools they need to access education safely and equally."

PFLAG has more than 400 chapters across the United States, including Puerto Rico. To learn more about PFLAG National's advocacy work, visit pflag.org/wherewestand.

PFLAG is the nation's largest organization uniting families, allies, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy, and has more than 400 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. To learn more, visit pflag.org .

From GLSEN:

NEW YORK (February 8, 2017) — Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Betsy DeVos' nomination for Secretary of Education, despite hundreds of thousands of calls, emails and letters from parents, students and advocates for inclusive public education asking Senators to vote no. GLSEN's Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, issued the following statement in response.

"During her confirmation hearing, DeVos refused to commit to ensuring federal-level protections are maintained for all youth — particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, students with disabilities and students who have experienced sexual assault. While this remains a concern for GLSEN, we draw inspiration from the tremendous outcry, which demonstrates that support for inclusive public education remains strong.

"This is the first time in our nation's history that the Vice President has had to vote for a Cabinet member to reach a Senate majority. This confirmation process has shown the heart and soul of our country is grounded in our support of public education, and we will not cease to demand equity for all students. We want our schools and our teachers to have the right resources to serve every child, and we expect every child to receive a meaningful education.

"Ms. DeVos worked remarkably hard to be seen as unthreatening to LGBTQ youth. The proof will be in her actions while she serves as Secretary of Education. Whatever her plans once in office, those prepping her for the hearings clearly understood that attacking LGBTQ youth is no longer a winning formula. That has been a transformation 26 years in the making and one of which we can all be tremendously proud. But we will remain vigilant in advocating whenever LGBTQ students are put at risk.

"While we are disappointed in those Senators who voted to confirm her nomination, we are incredibly thankful for the support from Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who along with Senate Democrats, voted against DeVos, citing real concerns about her readiness to lead the nation's public schools and ensure full access to education for all students.

"We call on Secretary DeVos to honor her confirmation commitment to address 'the needs of all parents and students' and to be 'a strong advocate for great public schools.' DeVoscan begin these efforts by continuing in the tradition of the departing Department of Education staff and meeting with LGBTQ youth from GLSEN Chapters and student clubs nationally.

"GLSEN is willing to work with DeVos and the Department of Education to organize this meeting, and to discuss how Department of Education funding can best be utilized to meet the needs of marginalized communities."


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