In a Congressional hearing yesterday, Betsy DeVos refused to answer a question about whether or not she thinks it is acceptable for schools to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
.@repmarkpocan: Do you think it's alright for a school to discriminate based on someone's sexual orientation or gender identity?
DeVOS: We have laws that cover discriminatory efforts.
POCAN: … is that a yes or no?
DeVOS: We follow the law. pic.twitter.com/z5ubS0zvt7
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 26, 2019
In Tuesday’s hearing, DeVos said that school’s shouldn’t discriminate against students in regard to their “race, religion, and national origin,” but didn’t mention sexual orientation or gender identity. This is fairly unsurprising, given that DeVos has previously tried to strip protections for transgender students and has said that federal law doesn’t clearly protect against discrimination against gender identity in schools.
However, openly gay Democrat Mark Pocan attempted to get a straight answer out of DeVos regarding her thoughts on discrimination against queer students by asking if she believes “it’s all right for a school to discriminate based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
DeVos did not directly answer the question but said, “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.”
“So, is that a yes or is that a no?” he asked. “I’m trying to get a yes-or-no, I guess, on that.”
“We follow the law as this body has defined,” DeVos said.
Pocan then asked her if she has a “personal opinion” on the discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity because she is “giving money to some charter schools that do discriminate.”
DeVos escaped without having to give a clear statement, but her actions make a formal answer unnecessary. David Stacy, the Director of Government Affairs for HRC, told PinkNews, “From day one of this administration, Betsy DeVos has undermined the safety, dignity, and civil rights of LGBTQ students. … Regardless of what her view of the state of current law is, this should be an easy answer for any adult who believes no child should feel unsafe or unwelcome in their schools and communities.”