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Watch: Betsy DeVos Squirms, Doesn’t Actually Answer When Gay Congressman Asks if Anti-LGBT Discrimination Is OK

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“We follow the law as this body has defined,” DeVos claims – despite having tossed out hundreds of discrimination complaints without investigating them.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in hot water after being grilled on Wednesday for her budget that totally eliminates funding for the Special Olympics. But there’s another issue that was yet another point of controversy for the far right wing billionaire member of President Trump’s cabinet.

“Do you think it’s all right for a school to discriminate based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity?” U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) asked the Education Secretary, as The Hill and Vox’s Aaron Rupar reported. Pocan happens to be gay.

A nervous DeVos seemed to squirm as she paused, struggling to find the words to deliver an answer to the “yes” or “no” question.

“We have laws that cover discriminatory efforts and our office for civil rights has continued to be very diligent in investigating any allegation of discrimination and will continue to do so,” she claimed, falsely, with intermittent nervous smiles.

“So is that a yes or is that a no?” Rep. Pocan again asked. “I’m trying to get a yes or no, I guess, on that.”

“We follow the law as this body has defined,” DeVos replied.

In fact, under Secretary DeVos, the Dept. of Education slammed the covers shut on hundreds of anti-LGBT – especially anti-transgender – cases, without actually or fully investigating.

“The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has begun dismissing hundreds of civil rights complaints under a new protocol that allows investigators to disregard cases that are part of serial filings or that they consider burdensome to the office,” The New York Times reported last April.

Also under DeVos, the Dept. of Education has reversed, rescinded, or gutted guidance and directives that protect the civil rights of transgender students, minority students including students of color, and students with special needs. She has also changed guidance to protect students accused of rape or sexual misconduct.

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Florida One Step Closer to Banning Trans Girls From Sports With Bill Providing for ‘Reproductive Anatomy’ Examination

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Florida House Republicans have passed legislation that bans transgender girls from participating in girl’s sports, and allows anyone to dispute a student’s gender, which would legally result in an examination of “student’s reproductive anatomy.”

HB 1475, the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” passed along party lines in a 70-44 vote, Law & Crime reports.

“Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex,” the legislation reads. The intent is to ban transgender girls or women on the “basis of students’ biological sex.”

The bill also says that if there is any “dispute” about a student athletes’ “biological sex,” it “shall be resolved by the student’s school or institution by requesting that the student provide a health examination and consent form or other statement signed by the student’s personal health care provider which must verify the student’s biological sex.”

“The health care provider may verify the student’s biological sex as part of a routine sports physical examination by relying only on one or more of the following: The student’s reproductive anatomy; The student’s genetic makeup; or The student’s normal endogenously produced testosterone levels.”

The legislation does not define “dispute,” who gets to file a dispute, or by what method a dispute should be filed or with what entity, or who has to pay for the exam. It leaves all that up to the State Board of Education.

In theory, a student who didn’t make the team and were to blame anyone who did could file a dispute and force that student athlete to have a genital examination.

House Republicans killed 18 proposed amendments, including one that would have removed the section providing for examination of a student’s reproductive anatomy.

The legislation, sponsored by Republican Rep.. Kaylee Tuck (photo) must now go to the Senate, which also has a 24-16 GOP majority. If it passes, 2024 Republican presidential hopeful, Governor Ron DeSantis, would have to sign it into law.

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AZ Lawmakers Ban Teaching About ‘Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression’ Without Parental Consent

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Lawmakers in the Arizona House and Senate have passed legislation that bans teaching students anything about “sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression” without first getting signed permission from a parent.

That means teaching about, for example, artist and Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci, astronaut Sally Ride, the founder of computer science, Alan Turing, or the late First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt – all of whom were LGBTQ – requires signed consent from a student’s parent.

In addition, sex education, should Republican Governor Doug Ducey sign SB 1456 into law, will also be banned until students reach fifth grade. After that, any teaching about “sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,” requires “written consent from a student’s parent or guardian.”

The bill is so poorly written that a plain reading of it means that any teaching or discussion of sexual orientation requires advanced consent from the parent. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, which means that any teaching about, for example, heterosexual marriages.

The bill updates current law to read: “A public educational institution shall obtain signed, written consent from a student’s parent or guardian before…PROVIDING SEX EDUCATION INSTRUCTION OR INSTRUCTION REGARDING SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, OR GENDER EXPRESSION TO THE STUDENT. WHEN THE PUBLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION SEEKS CONSENT, IT SHALL AT THE SAME TIME INFORM THE STUDENT’S PARENT OR GUARDIAN OF THE PARENT OR GUARDIAN’S RIGHT TO REVIEW THE INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS AND ACTIVITIES.”

Also requiring written consent: any teaching about HIV/AIDS.

The ACLU says the legislation stigmatizes LGBTQ students:

The bill may be unconstitutional, and likely violates Biden administration policy, meaning the Dept. of Education could sue the state and withhold education funding.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

Image: Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English), Lake Success, New York. November 1949. Photo by FDR Presidential Library & Museum via Flickr and a CC license

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Arkansas Republicans Override Governor’s Veto of Bill Banning Medical Treatment for Transgender Youth

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Republicans in the Arkansas legislature wasted no time on Tuesday, overriding Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill that will now ban medical treatment for transgender youth and teens. On Monday, after signing two anti-LGBTQ bills into law in recent weeks, the Arkansas Republican governor vetoed HB 1570, calling it “off-course,” and not “necessary and defensible.”

Less than 24 hours later Republicans overrode the veto, the AP reports. A simple majority is all that was required.

The ACLU, which has called the bill “one of the most extreme and harmful anti-trans bills in the country,”  immediately promised to sue.

HB 1570, the mis-named “Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” according to ACLU analysis, “would prohibit healthcare professionals from providing or even referring transgender young people for medically necessary health care.”

“It would bar any state funds for gender-affirming health care for transgender people under 18, and it would allow private insurers to refuse to cover gender-affirming care for people of any age.”

“Doctors who provide medically necessary care to trans youth would risk losing their licenses and be subject to lawsuits by individuals and the state,” the ACLU has said.

The House bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum, the Senate bill was sponsored by Republican Senator Alan Clark (photo).

 

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