'I Am Shocked That You Cannot Come Up With One Example of Discrimination That You Would Stand Up for Students'
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos says she has no problem with states that allow schools to discriminate against LGBT students while receiving federal funds, and believes that the federal government should not intervene.
Wednesday afternoon at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Sevices, and Education, Democratic Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts shared with Secretary DeVos the policies of an Indiana private school, the Lighthouse Christian Academy, which is allowed to accept state vouchers - a program for which DeVos has spent decades advocating.
As Rep. Clark told DeVos, the school's handbook states it will refuse admission to or expel students when someone in the child's home is "living in, condoning sexual immorality; practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternate gender identity; promoting such practices."
Rep. Clark, noting that the Lighthouse Academy receives over $665,000 in state vouchers, told DeVos the school policy is that "if you are from a family where there is homosexual or bisexual activity - their word not mine - or practicing alternate gender identity, you may be denied admissions."
Clark asked DeVos if she would ensure "this school be open to all students" if it accepts federal funding.
It didn't go well for her.
DeVos thanked Clark for her question, and pretended it was one that "broadly" was about school choice.
"It's actually kind of narrow," Clark interjected.
"Would you say to Indiana," Clark asked, "that school cannot discriminate against LGBT students if you want to receive federal dollars? Or would you say the state has the flexibility in this situation?"
DeVos began to respond, "I believe states have flexibility -"
"As I understand your testimony," Rep. Clark interjected, "there's no situation of discrimination or exclusion that if a state approved its voucher program that you would step in and say, 'That's not how we're going to use our federal dollars'?"
DeVos paused, then responded, "I think a hypothetical in this case -"
Clark again interjected: "It's not a hypothetical, this is a real school that receives real dollars," she said, before being told her time had expired.
"We believe," DeVos responded, "parents are the best-equipped to make choices for their children's schooling and education decisions. And too many children today are trapped in schools that don't work for them," DeVos continued, ignoring that too many LGBT students are trapped in schools that don't work for them.
"We have to do something different," DeVos insisted. "We have to do something different than continuing a top-down, one size fits all approach. And that is the focus, and states and local communities are best-equipped to make these decisions and framework," DeVos said, citing no evidence whatsoever.
"I am shocked that you cannot come up with one example of discrimination that you would stand up for students," Clark responded, as the gavel was banged prohibiting the exchange from continuing.
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