DeVos Won’t Answer Whether Federally Funded Schools Can Discriminate

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommitt... Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2018 budget. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) MORE LESS
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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to say Tuesday whether schools receiving federal dollars were required to protect students from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.

DeVos’ dodging the issue further angered Democrats, who say her lifelong advocacy for funneling public money to private and charter schools carries with it an acceptance that such schools can discriminate against LGBT students.

“Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law,” DeVos told Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) during testimony to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee, responding to his question on whether the White House’s proposed expansion of federal funds for private schools would carry with it discrimination protections.

“And I just said federal law is foggy,” Merkley replied. “So in your understanding of federal law, will such discrimination be allowed?”

“On areas where the law is unsettled, this department is not going to be issuing decrees,” she said, the closest Merkley got to an answer. “That is a matter for Congress and the courts to settle.”

DeVos has dodged questions on protections against discrimination since her nomination as education secretary.

In her confirmation hearing, DeVos answered, “I think that is a matter that is best left to the states” when asked if all schools nationwide should comply with the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which is federal law. “I may have confused it,” she said later.

On May 24, DeVos refused to give one example of where her department would step in on behalf of certain students subject to discrimination at the state level.

Correction: A previous version of this post misidentified the senator questioning DeVos Tuesday. It was Jeff Merkley (D-OR), not Ed Markey (D-MA)

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  1. Given that she thinks the government shouldn’t have anything to do with schools at all, I don’t see why she’d think the government should be protecting students in schools.

  2. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to say Tuesday whether schools receiving federal dollars were required to protect students from discrimination on the basis of their sexuality.

    I’ll take that as a solid “No.”

    “As a Christian first and a Republican second,” she said, “I can unequivocally state there’s just not enough hate in the world.”

  3. Of course they can
    Whats the point if you can’t keep out the lesbians, queers, godless heathens and brown people you don’t like.
    It’s the whole idea hidden behind “private”

  4. More like “Mis-Education” Secretary DeVos.

  5. She actually said “yes, they can.”

    If she’s going to leave clarification of federal law to the courts and congress, she is saying schools and states can do what they please in the interim.

    Why wasn’t she pressed on this??

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