February 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos opposed the reversal of the Obama transgender-school mandate in internal battles within the Trump administration, according to a New York Times reported that cited anonymous Republican sources.
“Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off [on the policy change] and told Mr. Trump that she was uncomfortable because the potential harm that rescinding the protections could cause transgender students, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions,” the Times reported Wednesday.
The Times continued: “The draft order would reverse the directives put in place last year by the Obama administration to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.”
It reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “who strongly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, fought Ms. DeVos on the issue and pressed her to relent because he could not go forward without her consent. The order must come from the Justice and Education Departments.”
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins praised Trump’s reversal of the controversial policy.
“Brick by brick, the White House is deconstructing the legacy of the Obama years — scrubbing everything from overseas abortion funding to dangerous immigration postures. Today, the Trump team may be adding a new guidance to the trash heap: Obama's hugely controversial shower and bathroom order.”
“For nine months, parents, local districts, and states have been storming the courthouse doors to fight back on the decree, which insisted that every public school force students into the humiliating situation of sharing showers, restrooms, and locker rooms, with members of the opposite sex,” Perkins wrote.
DeVos Strangely Diffident
Given such tremendous outrage among Republicans nationwide at Obama’s transgender order, DeVos issued a remarkably neutral statement about Trump’s “New Title IX Guidance.” In it, she affirmed that the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights “remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools.”
But under Obama, that same Office of Civil Rights was accused of overreaching its authority to punish conservative school districts (see below).
The new federal guidance challenge the previous mandate’s interpretation of Title IX, which was intended to fight sex discrimination (e.g., by leveling school funding for boys’ sports versus girls’ sports).
Trump’s guidance states, “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit concluded that the term ‘sex’ in the regulations is ambiguous and deferred to what the court characterized as the ‘novel’ interpretation advanced in the guidance. By contrast, a federal district court in Texas held that the term ’sex’ unambiguously refers to biological sex.”
It notes that in August 2016 “the Texas court preliminarily enjoined enforcement of the interpretation, and that nationwide injunction has not been overturned.” By July 2016, 23 states had signed on to fight the Obama transgender mandate in court.
As LifeSiteNews reported earlier this month, DeVos and husband Dick DeVos have a long history of siding with homosexual and transgender advocates — and against pro-family and tea party Republicans — in her native Michigan. Despite this aspect of her record being reported in the Times, it drew little attention among conservatives supporting her nomination for Education Secretary. Perhaps that is because their main focus was on DeVos’ strong support of school choice, a longstanding conservative reform that is bitterly opposed by left-leaning teachers unions.
It was precisely the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights under Obama that investigated and sued the Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota in 2011, charging “sex-based discrimination.” In that case, Rolling Stone magazine published a distortion-filled hit-piece directed at the school district’s pro-family policy against normalizing homosexuality, falsely linking several student suicides to the policy. Then the the Department of Justice and Department of Education sued the school district, joined by the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center. (The SPLC regularly smears pro-family organizations like FRC opposing the LGBT agenda as “hate groups.”)
Ultimately, in 2012, the Anoka-Hennepin school board caved to the federal pressure and adopted Obama’s pro-LGBT policies rather than go through expensive litigation against both the DOJ and DOE. The SPLC later bragged about the legal victory, dismissively referring to the overturned policy as a “gag policy”:
“The consent decree reached in March is the most far-reaching ever in a safe-schools case. Among many features, it requires comprehensive training for all students, teachers and school officials. The legal action also resulted in the gag policy being replaced with a policy mandating a respectful learning environment for all students. The DOJ and the U.S. Department of Education will monitor the district for the next five years to ensure compliance.”
Conservatives Stunned and Outraged
After eight years of overreaching LGBT-agenda promotion by the Obama administration, pro-family leaders were outraged to learn that Trump’s new Education Secretary had fought to keep Obama’s pro-transgender school mandate.
Christian conservative education advocate Linda Harvey of Mission America told LSN that “Betsy DeVos is turning out to be a big disappointment as an education leader. She clearly doesn’t understand what a devastating effect the homosexual/gender confusion issue has had on American schools, and how these activists have hijacked the ‘bullying’ issue to normalize deviant behaviors among vulnerable children.”
“The Obama Administration’s insane directive on transgenderism forced a destructive psychological perversion into the minds of the nation’s schoolchildren. The fact that Betsy DeVos supports it and fought to keep it is outrageous and bizarre,” Brian Camenker, president of the socially conservative group Mass Resistance, told LifeSiteNews. “But it’s not inconsistent with DeVos’s extensive pro-LGBT record – which the cowardly mainstream pro-family movement and GOP refused to bring up during her nomination process. So now this is what we’re stuck with.”
Laurie Higgins, cultural issues writer with the Illinois Family Institute, said that DeVos’ reluctance to abandon Obama’s controversial transgender school edict shows that DeVos “has bought the leftist belief that objective, immutable biological sex has no intrinsic meaning, including in regard to modesty and privacy.”
Further, it reveals that DeVos has “embraced the leftist lie that compassion and inclusivity require boys, girls, men, and women to relinquish their privacy,” Higgins told LifeSiteNews.
Citing LifeSiteNews’ reporting on the Education Secretary’s pro-LGBT past, she said, “DeVos' troubling support for same-sex faux-marriage and for allowing gender-dysphoric men to access women’s restrooms reveal her ignorance on fundamental issues related to sexuality.”
“These kids don’t need to take co-ed showers,” Harvey said. “They need counseling.”