During a hearing on Tuesday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told a congressional panel that she will make no move to prohibit discrimination of LGBTQ students.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) questioned DeVos on her plans to continue federal funding to schools with anti-LGBTQ policies. After attempting to dodge the question several times, DeVos finally stated, “In 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.”
Merkley, who clearly believed this was not a straightforward response, stated:
“You’re refusing to answer the question. I think that’s very important for the public to know that today, the Secretary of Education, before this committee, refused to affirm that she would put forward a program that would ban discrimination based on the LGBTQ status of students or ban discrimination based on religion.”
DeVos’ comments suggest that the Department of Education will not step in when it comes to the discrimination of LGBTQ students. Last month, during a different hearing, she told Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) that “state and local communities are best equipped to make these decisions and framework.”
The Department of Education has recently released a memo that rescinded the Obama administration’s guidance protecting transgender students. Instead of allowing for Title IX protections (which protects students on the basis of sex) to extend to transgender students, the new Education Secretary believes it is up to the states and local governments to make the call. In the meantime, the Department of Education will continue to provide federal funding to schools that discriminate against these students.
DeVos’ family is known for spending money on anti-LGBT hate groups. Many others involved in the Trump administration seem bent on promoting discrimination against LGBTQ individuals as well. In February, Sean Spicer called the interpretation that Title IX protects transgender students, “preposterous.”