Trump’s Education Secretary has again refused to say whether she believes LGBT students should be safeguarded from discrimination.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had last month stunned Congress by refusing to rule out taxpayer funding for private schools that discriminate against LGBT students.
She was challenged on the issue again today in a clash with Senator Jeff Merkley, who repeatedly asked her to clarify whether private schools should be banned from discriminating against gay students.
However, DeVos avoided any sort of pledge on the issue she said: “I said it before and I’ll say it again, schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law.”
When Sen. Merkley told her the law was not clear on the issue, she said: “On areas where the law is unsettled, this department is not going to be issuing decrees. That is a matter for Congress and the courts to settle.”
Pushed again, she said: “On areas of unsettled law, Congress and the Supreme Court has to decide.”
DeVos insisted: “Schools that recieve federal funds will follow federal law.”
Sen. Merkley said: “You’re refusing to answer the question.
“I think it’s very important to know that today, the Secretary of Education, before this committee, refused to affirm that she would put forward a programme that would ban discrimination based on the LGBTQ status of students.”
DeVos insisted: “Sir, that’s now what I said. Discrimination in any way is wrong. I don’t support such discrimination in any form.”
However, she refused to answer the question posed.Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, said: “By once again turning a blind eye to LGBTQ students who experience discrimination in school, Secretary DeVos continues to prove why she was the wrong choice to lead our nation’s education system.
“DeVos once claimed she was an LGBTQ ally, but has now supported back to back policies that would erase LGBTQ students from classrooms. If she wants to be known as more than an anti-LGBTQ activist the time is now to reverse course.”
DeVos previously sparked anger by revoking federal discrimination protections for transgender kids, reversing policies put in place under President Obama.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump all greenlit the change, deciding to revoke guidance that extended civil rights anti-discrimination protections to cover gender identity as well as sex and race.
DeVos defended the decision, claiming that the anti-discrimination protections had been a “very huge overreach” by the Obama administration.
Her nomination to the post of Education Secretary was supported by the Log Cabin Republicans group, which claims to represent LGBT Republicans, despite her anti-LGBT record.
The gay Republican group posted several messages to social media urging members to call their Senators and lobby in favour of DeVos’ confirmation – which was only pushed through when VP Mike Pence broke the tied 50-50 vote.