Failing Grade: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Resigns After Years of Anti-LGBTQ Rhetoric

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday January 8, 2021

Resigning Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Resigning Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.  (Source:AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Too cool for school? Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is the second cabinet member to resign, penning a hypocritical letter to the President in response to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

"For more than thirty years, I have fought on behalf of America's students to expand the options they have to pursue a world-class education," stated DeVos in the letter obtained by the New York Times. But her record on LGBTQ issues and underserved communities tells a different story.

In April 2020, DeVos issued restrictions on the usage of more than $6 billion in grants meant to help students cover unexpected costs triggered by the pandemic, saying that only students who qualify for other federal student aid could receive the aid. More than 400,000 students are estimated to have entered the U.S. illegally. More than 1 million international students are enrolled at U.S. colleges.

A report released in 2019 by the Center for American Progress condemned her performance, stating, "DeVos is failing her duty to enforce civil rights for all students." Gender identity discrimination was found to be the most common type of complaint lodged, and most of those were cases of alleged harassment.

DeVos's stance on transgender students fell under the Senate's scrutiny early in her tenure, with 34 senators signing a letter citing her family's association with a well-known hate group.

"You claim to support civil rights and oppose discrimination, but your actions belie your assurances," the senators wrote. "In testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, you attempted to distance yourself from your family's giving to organizations such as the Family Research Council, which promote intolerant views of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender non-conforming Americans and others. Yet, on June 15, 2017, the Family Research Council participated in an official event on engaging fathers in students' education at the Department."

"Impressionable children are watching all of this, and they are learning from us," DeVos concluded in her resignation letter. "I believe we each have a moral obligation to exercise good judgment and model the behavior we hope they would emulate."

For many students, parents, and teachers who have witnessed her actions since stepping into the role of Education Secretary, DeVos's message of unity rings hollow.

Jerry T. Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, summed up the feelings of many in one powerful tweet:

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.

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