Scroll To Top
Politics

Betsy DeVos Won't Say if She Opposes Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination

Pocan

Grilled by Rep. Mark Pocan, the Education secretary wouldn't give a straight answer about that or many other things.

trudestress

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, a gay Democrat from Wisconsin, grilled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Tuesday on whether schools should be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ students and couldn't get a direct answer.

DeVos was testifying before a House subcommittee on education appropriations, seeking to defend a proposed budget that includes deep cuts to programs that help students with disabilities but would raise the department's executive salaries and increase funding for charter schools.

Pocan noted that to earlier questioners, DeVos had mentioned that schools shouldn't discriminate on the basis of race, religion, and national origin, but she never mentioned sexual orientation or gender identity. "Do you think it's all right for a school to discriminate based on someone's sexual orientation or gender identity?"

"We have laws that cover discriminatory efforts, and our Office for Civil Rights has continued to be very diligent in investigating any allegation of discrimination and will continue to do so," DeVos replied. Pocan remarked that that isn't a yes or no answer, and DeVos reiterated, "We follow the law as defined."

However, there is no federal law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity -- that's why the Equality Act has been introduced. When Barack Obama was president, the Department of Education interpreted existing law on sex discrimination to include those characteristics, but Donald Trump's administration has abandoned that view. DeVos has given similarly evasive answers before, but also has said outright that her department won't investigate claims of anti-transgender discrimination.

Pocan also mentioned that the department does fund some charter schools that discriminate (charter schools are publicly funded but are under fewer regulations than traditional public schools) and that a recent report from a public education group said much taxpayer money has been wasted on charter schools.

DeVos contended there should be more charter schools, and she said there were "difficult decisions" involved in proposed cuts to the Special Olympics and programs for blind and deaf students. Pocan asked how she could justify those cuts as well as salary increases, but again, he couldn't get a direct answer.

The budget as proposed has little chance of passage, according to The Detroit Free Press. "Even with the Republicans in the majority in the U.S. House the last two years, most of DeVos' strongest proposals for cuts or spending were turned back," the paper notes. "Now with Democrats in the majority, they are far less likely to gain traction."

trudestress
Advocate Channel - HuluOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.