Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Equality Federation have released statements upon hearing about president-elect Donald Trump’s plans to nominate Betsy DeVos (R) as U.S. Secretary of Education.
GLSEN is especially concerned with the nomination because they say DeVos is a strong supporter of “school choice.” These programs allow companies to receive tax credits when they donate to non-profits which in turn give money to other organizations that help students pay for private schools.
Both Equality Federation and GSLEN claim that DeVos and her family have given money to right-wing anti-LGBT groups such as Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and Alliance Defending Freedom.
Executive Director Eliza Byard of GLSEN said they are opposed to DeVos’ nomination because her beliefs go directly against their principles of high-quality public education free of discrimination.
“DeVos’s record of advocacy for vouchers and tuition tax credits represents a rejection of that principle,” said Byard in the statement. “We have seen time and time again that so-called ‘school choice’ undercuts civil-rights enforcement and drains public education systems of desperately needed funds.
“True educational equity requires schools that serve the most at-risk students, including students of color; students with disabilities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning (LGBTQ) students; and English-language learners. Vouchers and tuition tax credits do not advance this cause.
“As we have seen over the past eight years, federal civil rights oversight of education is essential to ensure that all students in this country have real access to opportunity.
“There is so much to be celebrated in the civil rights gains made during the Obama Administration. As a nation, we must build on that legacy. Over the years, people of good will across the political spectrum have been able to come together to promote the success of all students, and we call upon DeVos to join us in moving forward.”
Director of Communications, Mark Snyder, of the state-based LGBT advocacy organization Equality Federation is also concerned with the nomination.
“After recently meeting with anti-LGBTQ mogul Jerry Falwell Jr. about education issues, Donald Trump has chosen Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education,” Snyder said in a statement. “DeVos and her family foundations have donated millions of dollars to extreme, anti-LGBTQ organizations. Some have promoted dangerous, unscientific “conversion therapies” to convert LGBTQ youth and all of them have fought against basic nondiscrimination protections, school safety, and more.”
In a tweet on Wednesday, DeVos responded to the news about the nomination, “I am honored to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again. The status quo in ed is not acceptable.”