Outgoing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos left a hateful parting gift for the students she was supposed to protect. In one of her final acts, DeVos penned a policy memorandum which encouraged further discrimination against transgender students seeking to live, learn, and compete according to their gender rather than the sex assigned at birth. According to DeVos, the landmark Bostock v. Clayton City which banned employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender, does not apply to Title IX education law, and she further claimed the law when written defined sex as biological and binary and, therefore, it doesn’t apply protections to transgender students.
“In her final moments at the Department of Education, Secretary Betsy DeVos prioritized punishing LGBTQ students,” Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “The memorandum refusing to apply Bostock to federal education law is unconscionable and legally flawed.
The 13-page memorandum was dated January 8 and used a question-and-answer format to explain the department’s interpretation of the Bostock decision and how it impacts Title IX enforcement. The memorandum claimed the Supreme Court decision actually affirmed the department belief that “long-standing construction of the term ‘sex’ in Title IX means biological sex, male or female.”
The memorandum contained other disturbing examples of how the department may apply their interpretation of Bostock.
“Consequently, we believe a recipient generally would not violate Title IX by, for example, recording a student’s biological sex in school records, or referring to a student using sex-based pronouns that correspond to the student’s biological sex, or refusing to permit a student to participate in a program or activity lawfully provided for members of the opposite sex, regardless of transgender status or homosexuality,” the memorandum claimed.
DeVos has a long history of antipathy or outright hostility toward LGBTQ+ people. Her family 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.
David of HRC has seen enough.
“Over the last four years, Secretary DeVos has repeatedly attacked the LGBTQ community — especially transgender students — leaving an egregious record of recruiting anti-LGBTQ extremists, making it difficult for survivors of sexual assault to receive justice, and rescinding guidance to schools on their obligations to transgender students,” he observed.