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Education Sec Betsy DeVos to LGBT Activists: I Will Fight ‘On Behalf of All Students’

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos says her department is committed to ensuring every child is “respected” in his or her learning environment.

DeVos’s statement, released after meeting with representatives from LGBT rights groups, made clear that all children are deserving of respect and acceptance, without singling out any one particular group of students.

The secretary said:

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak directly with these families, students and community leaders about their concerns, thoughts, fears and suggestions. Every school and every school leader has a moral responsibility to protect all students and ensure every child is respected and can learn in an accepting environment. I remain committed to advocating for and fighting on behalf of all students. Today’s meeting was compelling, moving and welcomed, and part of an ongoing dialogue with families and students throughout the country.

DeVos met with transgender students and their parents; Stephanie White, executive director of Equality Michigan – from DeVos’s home state; Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN; Nathan Smith, director of public policy of GLSEN; and Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

The LGBT rights leaders reportedly discussed their concerns about President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Obama administration’s directive that caused school bathroom and locker room use to be an issue under the oversight of the federal government. Trump said policy about bathrooms and other private spaces should be under the purview of the states.

“We highlighted the pervasive violence and discrimination that the majority of transgender students face across the country, including being prevented from using their correct name and pronouns and appropriate school facilities, Byard said in a press release statement about the meeting with the secretary. “We told DeVos about the immediate impact of withdrawing the guidance, and discussed ways that she might be able to mitigate the pain, fear, and confusion that decision has caused.”

Keisling said in a recent C-SPAN interview that parents who oppose their children and teenagers being forced to share bathrooms and shower rooms with children of the opposite sex must begin “putting aside their prejudices.”

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