NEW YORK ( February 16, 2017 ) In a recent interview with a Michigan radio program, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos telegraphed her intentions to cut what she deems "unnecessary" Department of Education programs, saying:
"I can't tell you today what is being done [at the Department of Education] that's unnecessary. But I can guarantee that there are things that the department has been doing that are probably not necessary or important for a federal agency to do. We'll be looking at that."
In response, GLSEN's Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, released the following statement:
"With 66% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning ( LGBTQ ) students reporting having personally experienced LGBTQ-related discriminatory policies or practices at their school, protecting LGBTQ students is a necessity. During her confirmation hearing, then-nominee DeVos expressed her support for maintaining safe learning environments for all students — including LGBTQ students — and we hope she will keep that promise. Last year, a record number of families from across the country turned to the Department of Education for help. 16,000 reports of discrimination, each more heartbreaking than the next. Clearly, the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education is an essential service to the American people.
"Although 14 states have passed comprehensive nondiscrimination laws inclusive of LGBTQ students, over half of the nation's school population remains without such protections. It is imperative that the Department of Education protects all students, particularly where the states continue to fail in doing so. This is precisely why the Office for Civil Rights exists. The Department also plays a vital role in documenting what is going on in schools across the country, in order to track our progress in reducing barriers to opportunity. The Civil Rights Data Collection is an essential investment in real educational opportunity.
"We urge Secretary DeVos to keep in place protections for the most marginalized students — women, students with disabilities, students of color, undocumented students and LGBTQ students — when considering any funding cuts."
GLSEN's flagship research project, the National School Climate Survey, provides additional details regarding the school experiences of LGBTQ youth in schools. Read the Executive Summary, or download the full report, online at glsen.org/nscs.
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, largely through our network of chapters working in their local communities. GLSEN's progress and impact has 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 .