Try not to look too shocked: Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is boosting the profile of an anti-LGBTQ+ school in Pennsylvania.
DeVos is visiting Harrisburg Catholic Elementary School in Pennsylvania today as part of a “2019 Back-to-School Tour.” The school refers to transgender people as practicing “self-mutilation,” and that they trans folks are therefore “immoral.”
Using outdated language, the school’s official policy says that it would not allow "a student's determination to undergo a sex change procedure or that a student has undergone the procedure.”
Students or staff who transition would be required to leave the school.
The school will host DeVos at a roundtable discussion about diverting taxpayer money to private religious schools, many of which discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.
For her part, DeVos has long been a fan of such schemes, even when it denies educational access to LGBTQ+ students. According to a HuffPost investigation, at least 14 percent of religious schools participating in state voucher or tax-credit programs target LGBTQ+ students and staff for discrimination.
While most states have policies that funnel funding to private schools, DeVos has been trying to create a federal program.
In Pennsylvania, for example, businesses that give money to private schools for scholarships get a tax break, which has resulted in over 37,000 scholarships given out — including to the Diocese that runs Harrisburg Catholic Elementary School.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, vetoed Republican legislation that would have further lined the pockets of private schools.
DeVos, whose family made its fortune by running what Business Insider calls a “pyramid scheme,” has a long history of antipathy or outright hostility toward LGBTQ+ people.
Just this year, she acknowledged that the administration's choice to rescind Obama-era protections for transgender students exposed those students to additional harassment and discrimination. She also refused to commit to anti-discrimination measures at a hearing on education funding.
Prior to that, the Education Department announced under her leadership that they would ignore complaints filed by transgender students and rolled back policies on investigating campus sexual assaults, which disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ students.
And of course, it doesn’t end there. DeVos’ family also funneled money to Focus on the Family, which pushes "conversion therapy," and Bethany Christian Services, an anti-LGBTQ+ adoption agency.
While serving as chairperson of the Michigan Republican State Committee, DeVos said in 2004 that conservatives “support marriage between one man and one woman because that is the way God set it up and because children need a mother and a father to love and care for them." She donated $200,000 to a campaign to block marriage equality in Minnesota.
DeVos also bragged about using her hoarded wealth to buy influence within the Republican Party.