Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Betsy DeVos’ nomination for Secretary of Education, despite hundreds of thousands of calls, emails and letters from parents, students and advocates for inclusive public education asking Senators to vote no. GLSEN’s Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, issued the following statement in response.
“During her confirmation hearing, DeVos refused to commit to ensuring federal-level protections are maintained for all youth – particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, students with disabilities and students who have experienced sexual assault. While this remains a concern for GLSEN, we draw inspiration from the tremendous outcry, which demonstrates that support for inclusive public education remains strong.
“This is the first time in our nation’s history that the Vice President has had to vote for a Cabinet member to reach a Senate majority. This confirmation process has shown the heart and soul of our country is grounded in our support of public education, and we will not cease to demand equity for all students. We want our schools and our teachers to have the right resources to serve every child, and we expect every child to receive a meaningful education.
“Ms. DeVos worked remarkably hard to be seen as unthreatening to LGBTQ youth. The proof will be in her actions while she serves as Secretary of Education. Whatever her plans once in office, those prepping her for the hearings clearly understood that attacking LGBTQ youth is no longer a winning formula. That has been a transformation 26 years in the making and one of which we can all be tremendously proud. But we will remain vigilant in advocating whenever LGBTQ students are put at risk.
“While we are disappointed in those Senators who voted to confirm her nomination, we are incredibly thankful for the support from Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who along with Senate Democrats, voted against DeVos, citing real concerns about her readiness to lead the nation’s public schools and ensure full access to education for all students.
“We call on Secretary DeVos to honor her confirmation commitment to address ‘the needs of all parents and students’ and to be ‘a strong advocate for great public schools.’ DeVos can begin these efforts by continuing in the tradition of the departing Department of Education staff and meeting with LGBTQ youth from GLSEN Chapters and student clubs nationally.
“GLSEN is willing to work with DeVos and the Department of Education to organize this meeting, and to discuss how Department of Education funding can best be utilized to meet the needs of marginalized communities.” V
Via Press Release
GLSEN champions safe and affirming schools for all students. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach tens of thousands of K-12 schools across the United States, largely through our network of chapters working in their local communities. GLSEN’s progress and impact has won support for our work at all levels of education in the United States and sparked an international movement to ensure equality for LGBTQ students and respect for all in schools. For more information on GLSEN’s policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, public education, research and educator training programs, please visit glsen.org.