( New York, NY ) - July 18, 2017 - In a July 11 letter to Senator Patty Murray ( D-WA ), Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos claimed that the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, under President Obama, had overly broadened the scope of investigations into discrimination against students, leading to an inability to adequately investigate individual complaints. In the letter, DeVos also claimed that she saw herself as "returning the OCR to its role as a neutral, impartial investigative agency," alleging, without elaboration, that the agency had previously "value[d] one type of violation over another [and] one class of complainant over another." In a July 14 response, Sen. Murray reiterated previous demands for full documentation of policy changes made by the OCR, including: lists of complaints made by transgender students and victims of sexual harassment, and their current status; the complete investigative manual currently being used by the OCR; and more. To date, Sen. Murray has not received a response.
In response, Nathan Smith, GLSEN's Director of Public Policy, released the following statement:
"GLSEN fully supports Sen. Murray's call for answers and details as to any policy changes currently being made by the OCR under Sec. DeVos, and demands that these documents be released not only to Senate committee members, but to the public as well.
"In her letter, Sec. DeVos implies that investigating complaints into discrimination against transgender students is inherently biased, and privileges transgender students over other complainants. Nothing could be further from the truth. One cannot be 'neutral and impartial' by refusing to protect transgender students from harassment and discrimination.
"In the months since she rescinded the Obama Administration's Title IX guidance on transgender students, Sec. DeVos has repeatedly refused to answer questions about what the OCR's policy on this issue is going forward, as opposed to what it is not. The climate of uncertainty she has consequently created for transgender students is unacceptable. Trans students deserve to know what protections they have, and to know exactly why Sec. DeVos refuses to use the weight of OCR to protect them."
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 .