As Congress begins hearings on Betsy DeVos's nomination to be the U.S. Secretary of Education, Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, the nation's leading non-profit legal organization working for LGBT rights, provided the following statement:
"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students contact Lambda Legal every day to seek help being safe at school. We need a Secretary of Education who will make schools safe for all students, and who won't tolerate bullying by peers, parents, or school administrators.
"What we know so far about Betsy DeVos's record concerns us. She has supported Focus on the Family, which opposes marriage equality, and her family foundation has funded a group that advances the dangerous practice of so-called 'conversion therapy.' Her advocacy for privatizing public education could eject students LGBT or not from the protection of federal laws.
A complete confirmation process for Betsy DeVos is necessary in order to fully investigate whether she supports equal rights for LGBT students."
NEW YORK (January 17, 2017) GLSEN's Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, released the following statement in response to the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-Elect Trump's nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education. DeVos is a prominent school-choice and anti-public education advocate.
"Today's confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos was not nearly long enough for the thorough discussion our children's education requires. Short as it was, it raised a lot of additional deeply troubling issues of grave concern to all parents. While we are relieved to hear DeVos rejecting the dangerous and thoroughly discredited practice of conversion therapy her family has previously supported, it was chilling to hear DeVos dodge questions about whether she would keep essential protections for transgender students, and basically refer all other civil rights protections for students with disabilities, students of color, and religious minority students "back to the states."
"We've seen where that leads, and we know that all students require more protection if we are to be a country that provides meaningful opportunity to all children. There are too many questions still to be answered. Children's lives depend on it; the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth depend on it. It is shameful to shut this hearing down before American parents have a chance to hear and understand what Betsy DeVos would do as our Secretary of Education.
"If this is all the hearing we're going to get, then we must oppose. Conversion therapy is not the only issue of concern for LGBTQ youth. LGBTQ youth come from many communities and have many identities identities that U.S. civil rights law is designed to protect.
"We cannot leave their educations and their futures to chance. We must demand that the nation's Secretary of Education serve the interests of all students, including providing protections and safety for the most marginalized among us: LGBTQ students, students of color, students with disabilities, and female students, among others."
The latest edition of GLSEN's National School Climate Survey found that LGBTQ students who experienced discrimination and bullying and harassment at school were more than three times as likely to have missed school in the past month as those who did not, had lower GPAs, and had lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression. GLSEN has created model laws and policies for schools, districts and states to ensure LGBTQ students are safe and affirmed at school, including a model district policy for accommodating transgender and gender nonconforming students that complies with Title IX.
GLSEN champions safe and affirming schools for all students. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach tens of thousands of K-12 schools across the United States, and our network of chapters brings GLSEN's expertise to their local communities. GLSEN's progress and impact have won support for our work at all levels of education in the United States and sparked an international movement to ensure equality for LGBTQ students and respect for all in schools. For more information on GLSEN's policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, public education, research and educator training programs, please visit glsen.org .
WASHINGTON — This evening, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, responded to Betsy DeVos' hearing for Education Secretary.
David Stacy, Government Affairs Director of the Human Rights Campaign, responded:
"It's good that Betsy DeVos rejects the dangerous practice of conversion therapy and is distancing herself from extremist organizations that practice it. But will she protect LGBTQ young people and commit to keeping crucial protections in place for transgender students? That is a key, critical question and should be an easy answer. Does she reject Focus on the Family's call for the Department of Education to rescind guidance ensuring the safety of transgender students? Will she reject attempts by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty to have taxpayers foot the bill for discrimination against LGBTQ students and families? We still don't know those answers and we must. The next Secretary of Education deserves a thorough vetting and this drive-by hearing is inadequate and inexcusable."
DeVos' personal foundation has donated $275,000 to Focus on the Family, an organization that promotes, among other things, conversion therapy
DeVos' personal foundation has donated $15,000 to the Becket Foundation, an organization that advocates for taxpayers funding discriminatory schools
DeVos' personal foundation has donated $65,000 to the Thomas More Law Center, an organization that represented organizations that challenged the constitutionality of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.