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Betsy DeVos admits she backed a new rule she knew could hurt kids

In a congressional hearing, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos admitted that her actions could harm transgender students.

By Dan Desai Martin - April 10, 2019
Betsy DeVos

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos knew one of her policy decisions could lead to worse academic performance and depression among transgender students.

And she did it anyway.

DeVos admitted as much on Wednesday in response to questions from Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) during a congressional hearing before the Education and Labor committee.

Bonamici reminded DeVos that 2016 policy guidance to schools regarding transgender students was roundly praised by experts for making schools safer for students. DeVos decided to reverse that department’s position on protecting transgender students in 2017.

“When you rolled back that guidance did you know that the stress of harassment and discrimination can lead to lower attendance in grades as well as depression and anxiety for transgender students. Did you know that?” Bonamici asked.

After DeVos tried to avoid answering the question, Bonamici insisted that she answer whether or not she knew the risks when she rolled back the policy.

“I do know that,” DeVos eventually admitted.

The guidance under discussion allowed transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity. After the hearing, Bonamici issued a statement saying she was “troubled” by DeVos’ response.

“The Department of Education has a responsibility to protect all students, but she acknowledged that she moved forward with a plan to rollback protections for transgender students despite knowing that it would put them at risk,” Bonamici said.

The revelation that DeVos knowingly decided to put some students at risk follows a similar pattern for Trump’s education secretary. Almost a year after rescinding the Obama-era guidance, she announced that her department would no longer even investigate complaints from transgender students regarding bathroom choices.

At the time, Catherine Lhamon, head the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights under President Obama, told the Washington Post that the decision was “appalling and deeply dangerous.”

Rather than protect all students, DeVos made a conscious decision to put some students at risk.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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