US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has refused to stand up for the rights of vulnerable LGBT+ students during a frustrating exchange at a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing this week.
DeVos was questioned by Katherine Clark—a Democratic representative from Massachusetts—who asked whether schools applying for federal funding should be able to discriminate against LGBT+ families.
Clark used the example of the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Indiana—a school that denies admission to students from a families where there is “homosexual or bisexual activity” or anyone “practising alternate gender identity” or “behaviours prohibited in the Bible.”
The school currently receives more than $650,000 in state funding and under Devos, could be in line federal funding as well.
“If Indiana applies for this federal funding, will you stand up that this school be open to all students?” Clark asked DeVos.
DeVos continued to deflect from the question, refusing to say she would stand up for LGBT+ students.
“Is there a line for you on state flexibility?” Clark asked, pressing: “You are the backstop for students and their right to access a quality education."
She continued: “Would you say, in this case, we are going to overrule and you cannot discriminate, whether it be on sexual orientation, race, special needs, in our voucher program? Will that be a guarantee from you for our students?”
Devos replied: “For states that have programs that allow parents to make choices, they set up the rules around that.”
Clark continued to push the Education Minister for a definitive answer but her allotted questioning time ran out.
“I am shocked that you cannot come up with one example of discrimination that you would stand up for students,” Clark said.
You can watch the tense debate below: