Betsy DeVos stands by her decision to roll back protections for trans students.
In a House Education Committee hearing Wednesday, lawmakers question DeVos’ move to drop Obama-era guidelines extending Title IX protections to trans kids in schools, The Hill reports, which asked that trans students be able to use public restrooms in accordance with their gender identity rather than their sex assigned at birth.
DeVos dodged the question, but Rep. Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon pressed her on it.
“Sorry, I would really like an answer,” said the Democratic congresswoman. “Did you know, when you rolled back the guidance, that the stress of harassment and discrimination can lead to lower attendance and grades as well as depression for transgender students?”
Trans students face disproportionately high rates of harassment and violence in school. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 survey on trans Americans, more than three-quarters (77%) of survey participants said that they’d experienced verbal harassment, physical violence, or sexual assault in grades kindergarten through 12.
“I do know that,” DeVos said. “But I will say again that [the Office of Civil Rights] is committed to ensuring all students have access to their education free from discrimination.”
Bonamici pressed DeVos once again, asking if she was aware of the American Association of Pediatrics’ findings that trans kids attempt suicide at alarmingly high rates.
“I am aware of that data,” DeVos responded.
In a later statement, Bonamici said that she was “troubled” by DeVos’ response.
“The Department of Education has a responsibility to protect all students, but she acknowledged that she moved forward with a plan to rollback protections for transgender students despite knowing that it would put them at risk,” Bonamici said.