I don’t usually use my blog in this way, but the world is going to shit and we need to talk about it when the very people who are supposed to be standing up for equality act like toothless cowards. First, deep breath, here’s a cat:
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Donald Trump has nominated Betsy DeVos, a woman with absolutely no experience working with or in public schools, as his Secretary of Education. In fact, DeVos more or less hates public schools, but she did give Trump a whole lot of money! She’s also from Michigan, where she’s been working her ass off to funnel taxpayer money into private schools for years. Regular readers will know that I reside in Michigan! Readers who are also friends will probably know that I have a lot of anxiety about the schooling options available for my family, in part because of policies that are in place because of Betsy DeVos.
Betsy DeVos is bad news for poor kids. She’s bad news for kids of color. She’s bad news for disabled kids. She’s bad news for queer kids. And even if you, or someone in your family, doesn’t fall into one of those categories, if you have a progressive bone in your body, this person is bad freaking news. And yet…
Well, just check out this email I received last night from Equality Michigan, the largest and best known LGBT advocacy group in the state:
On Tuesday, January 17 Betsy DeVos appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions for her confirmation hearing as President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education. After hearing from hundreds of Equality Michigan supporters from all over the state and receiving requests from a broad chorus of pro-equality advocates across the country, Ms. DeVos spoke out in support of LGBT students.
Equality Michigan was pleased to hear her state, “Every child in America deserves to be in a safe environment that is free from discrimination.” She went on to say, after being pointedly questioned by Sen Al Franken (DFL-MN) about the inhumane practice of so-called conversion therapy, “I have never believed in that.”
If Ms. DeVos is confirmed as Secretary of Education, we look forward to working with her and her department to put those values into action in the form of policies that protect the safety of LGBT kids and ensure freedom from discrimination. Thankfully, there are many proven policies currently in place that should be maintained. We know from direct experience here in Michigan just how successful the policies of the Office Civil Rights have been. Equality Michigan works with students, parents, and educators who rely on current nondiscrimination policies to keep kids in schools, focused on education, and healthy. These policies have literally saved students lives and we look forward to seeing them continued.
Thank you to everyone who signed the petition, spoke out, and joined with LGBT equality organizations all over the country, local and national, to highlight the need for clarity on these issues. Obviously, our work is far from done. We will all keep working together to put our shared values of fairness and equality in practice and make them a lived reality for our community.
I’m not going to mince words here. This is a fucking problem. This is dangerous, and this is ridiculous. Equality Michigan is essentially waving the victory flag over two vague statements made by DeVos during the hearing… neither of which included any indication of how her beliefs would affect education policy. Note that she didn’t say that was would outlaw conversion therapy, or even that she’s against it, just that she’s “never believed that.” Forgive me if I don’t feel the sudden urge to embroider the woman a rainbow throw pillow.
But even if she had come out in full support of LGBT students, hell, even if she’d come out in full support of LGBTQIA students (which is *cough cough* more than mainstream gay advocacy groups like Equality Michigan are ever willing to do) she’d still be dangerous. And it would still be a problem for Equality Michigan to “look forward to working with her.” This is a classic example of a failure of intersectionality, of one oppressed group being a-ok with harm done to other oppressed groups, so long as it isn’t done to their group (except in this case, it’s “as long as we can pretend it isn’t going to happen to our group”). This is abominable and disgraceful.
I haven’t yet been able to find a full transcript of the hearing that is actually readable, but here is a wrap-up of a few things she said and refused to say.
As a poor, queer, mother, all of this scares the crap out of me. As a person who actually gives a damn about other people, it cares the crap out of me. But what really scares me the most is when organizations that should have my back are “looking forward to working with” people like Betsy DeVos.
We’re living in dangerous times, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Want to show your support?
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