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DeVos Knew of Harms of Revoking Protections for Transgender Students

On Wednesday, U.S. Department of Education secretary Betsy DeVos admitted to Congress that she knew of potential harms when she revoked discrimination protections for transgender students.

DeVos appeared before the House Education and Labor Committee, where she was questioned by civil rights subcommittee chairwoman Suzanne Bonamici for rescinding an Obama-era policy that allowed transgender students to use school restrooms according to their gender identity, Newsweek reported.

While testifying about her department’s policies and priorities, DeVos was asked if she knew about a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics that revealed “alarming levels of attempted suicide among transgender youths when she rolled back the guidance.”

“I’m aware of that data,” DeVos responded.

“I will say again that [Office for Civil Rights] is committed to ensuring that all students have access to their education free from discrimination,” she added.

Following her line of questioning, Congresswoman Bonamici expressed frustration toward Devos, claiming that the rollback of protections for transgender students has put them at greater risk of harassment and discrimination.

“We know that transgender students are frequently bullied and victimized, and we know also that the 2016 guidance to schools about transgender students was applauded by education and health care experts – educators, counselors, pediatricians, psychologists – because it made students safer at school,” Bonamici said in a statement.

“She acknowledged that she moved forward with a plan to rollback protections for transgender students despite knowing that it would put them at risk.”

Last year, President Donald Trump proposed making changes to the definition of gender to be determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The move, if implemented, could have a drastic impact on federal protections offered to transgender people.

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