Watch LIVE

Is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos fully on board with new transgender bathroom rules?

News
President Donald Trump looks at Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as he speaks during a meeting with parents and teachers, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a statement on Wednesday after President Donald Trump rescinded federal guidelines on transgender bathroom rights in public schools. Former President Obama signed the controversial guidance last May, instructing public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identified with, and threatening to withhold funding for school districts that didn't comply.

DeVos was hesitant to back Trump's withdrawal, according to the New York Times, because she was worried that it could cause undue harm to transgender students in public schools.

Her statement explains the reason for the withdrawal of the school bathroom guidelines, citing it as a states' rights issue.

"This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find – and in many cases have found – solutions that protect all students," the statement read.

DeVos went on to assert that protecting LGBTQ students remains a priority for her in spite of the rollback. "I have dedicated my career to advocating for and fighting on behalf of students, and as Secretary of Education, I consider protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America."

"We owe all students a commitment to ensure they have access to a learning environment that is free of discrimination, bullying and harassment," the statement concluded.

Full statement below:

We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment. This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district or state can abdicate. At my direction, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools.

The guidance issued by the previous administration has given rise to several legal questions. As a result, a federal court in August 2016 issued a nationwide injunction barring the Department from enforcing a portion of its application. Since that time, the Department has not enforced that part of the guidance, thus there is no immediate impact to students by rescinding this guidance.

This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find – and in many cases have found – solutions that protect all students.

I have dedicated my career to advocating for and fighting on behalf of students, and as Secretary of Education, I consider protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.

We owe all students a commitment to ensure they have access to a learning environment that is free of discrimination, bullying and harassment.

DeVos initially pushed back against Trump's plan to withdraw the LGBTQ protections, clashing with newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to several Republicans who spoke to the Times, Sessions took the argument directly to Trump, who demanded DeVos back the measure to withdraw the LGBTQ guidelines. Sessions has been a long-time opponent of special treatment of the gay and transgender community.

 

Most recent
All Articles