Education Secretary Betsy DeVos admitted Wednesday that she was aware of the the hardships faced by transgender students when she rolled back Obama-era guidelines meant to protect their rights.
In a hearing of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), the chair of the subcommittee on civil rights and human services, asked Devos whether, when she rolled back the guidlines in the early days of the Trump administration, she knew “that the stress of harassment and discrimination can lead to lower attendance and grades as well as depression and anxiety for transgender students?”
DeVos didn’t answer directly, so Bonamici asked the question again. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I would really like an answer. Students and families need to know this.”
DeVos answered that “I do know” about effects of harassment faced by transgender students, adding that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights “is committed to ensuring that all students have access to their education free from discrimination.” (The same office has been faulted during the Trump administration for closing hundreds of civil rights investigations.)
Bonamici asked DeVos if she was aware of an American Academy of Pediatrics study that found “alarming” levels of attempted suicide among transgender youth.
“I’m aware of that data,” DeVos said.