GLSEN Responds as Secretary DeVos Refuses to Commit LGBTQ Students

GLSEN Responds to Secretary DeVos

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Cathy Renna 917-757-6123

GLSEN Responds As Sec. Devos Refuses To Commit To Protecting LGBTQ Students

New York, NY (June 7, 2017) – In a Senate hearing on June 6, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos referred to discrimination against LGBTQ students as an area of “unsettled” law, and repeatedly evaded questions on the subject by deferring to federal law, leaving the issue as a matter for the courts and Congress. GLSEN's Director of Public Policy, Nathan Smith, released the following statement in response: 

“Simply deferring to current federal law is a wholly inadequate response when students across the country face denial of their most basic rights, particularly when Secretary DeVos remains opaque about her Department’s interpretation of that law. It matters little whether Secretary DeVos personally opposes discrimination, as she repeatedly avowed in the hearing; the onus is on the Department of Education to fulfill its responsibility to enforce students’ civil rights, and to provide a clear answer affirming that LGBTQ students have a right to attend school free from discrimination.”

“An inclusive, non-discriminatory learning environment is critical to student success.  Research has shown that LGBTQ students who experienced LGBTQ-related discrimination were three times more likely to miss school, had lower GPAs, and lower self-esteem than their peers.[1]  Secretary DeVos has a responsibility to stand up for all students, one which, to date, she has evaded. It is past time for Secretary DeVos to stop hiding behind her personal beliefs, Congress, or the courts; she can and must fulfill the Department of Education’s duty to protect the rights of all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, by making clear that discrimination is not acceptable and that government dollars will not be allocated to schools that discriminate against LGBTQ youth. "



GLSEN champions safe and affirming schools for all students. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach tens of thousands of K-12 schools across the United States, and our network of chapters brings GLSEN’s expertise to their local communities. GLSEN's progress and impact have won support for our work at all levels of education in the United States and sparked an international movement to ensure equality for LGBTQ students and respect for all in schools. For more information on GLSEN’s policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, public education, research and educator training programs, please visit


[1] GLSEN “The 2015 National School Climate Survey”