Rep. Lee Examines Sec. Betsy DeVos’s Rollback of Protections for LGBTQ+ Students

September 11, 2020
Press Release

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Washington, D.C. –  Yesterday, member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, U.S. Rep. Susie Lee (Nev.-03), participated in a Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee hearing: On the Basis of Sex: Examining the Administration’s Attacks on Gender-Based Protections. Rep. Lee joined her fellow subcommittee members to examine how the administration’s LGBTQ+ civil rights rollbacks have harmed Americans’ access to education, health care, and workplace protections. 

Rep. Lee highlighted U.S. Department of Education (DoED) Sec. Betsy DeVos’s rollback of LGBTQ+ civil rights in America’s schools:

“First, I want to acknowledge that there’s been a lot of legal jargon and acronyms thrown around today, but to be frank, we are speaking about one plain and simple principle, and that’s equality.  

“We’ve heard today about the many ways in which Secretary Betsy DeVos and the administration have worked to weaken, rollback, and remove key civil rights protections—particularly for LGBTQ individuals and women.  

“As someone who spent my career working among our most vulnerable populations in Nevada public schools, I want to first focus on how these actions are hurting students – particularly students already at high risk of falling behind or dropping out.” 

Rep. Lee asked the hearing witness, Ms. Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, about the impact these rollbacks have on LGBTQ+ students, transgender students in particular: 

Rep. Lee“Ms. Goss Graves, as we’ve discussed today, in 2017, Betsy DeVos rescinded key guidance that had secured the rights of transgender students, leaving transgender students now more vulnerable to ongoing discrimination at school. Can you speak to how the rescission of the guidance does just that?” 

Ms. Goss Graves - “The first thing to know is that transgender students are more likely to experience discrimination and harassment at school, and study after study has shown that.  

“And the harassment that they experience, when they do go forward, they are less likely to be believed or are told to change who they are, rather than having the schools enforce their [harassment] rules.  

“So, we are already starting out at a place that’s worrisome. But the combination of the message that the Department of Education is sending, that they don’t really have to do what they need to do, plus the change in the Title IX sexual harassment and violence rules can have devastating effects for all LGBTQ students, and for transgender students in particular.” 

BACKGROUND: Rep. Lee has continued to fight for federal protections for LGBTQ+ Americans, including helping lead the charge to block the Trump administration’s transgender military ban, and most notably, voting for the Equality Act, which would finally give the LGBTQ+ community federal protection against discrimination in employment, housing, and other core aspects of life. 

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