Betsy DeVos Denies Report That She Supports Obama's Transgender Bathroom Directive

Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos giving remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor, Maryland on Thursday, February 23, 2017. |

Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos pushed back against reports that she supported the Obama administration's transgender bathroom directive for public schools, stating that she supports the Trump's administration's decision to reverse the policy.

President Trump on Wednesday rescinded the Obama-era directive, which was presently not enforced due to a nationwide injunction placed on the directive by a federal judge. Initial reports indicated that DeVos opposed the change. 

In remarks given at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Secretary DeVos explained that she supported ending the directive because she saw it as "a very huge example of the Obama Administration's overreach."

"To suggest a one-size-fits-all federal government approach, top-down approach to issues that are best dealt with and solved at a personal level and a local level," stated DeVos.

"I have made clear from the moment I've been in this job that it's our job to protect students and to do that to the fullest extent that we can ... and to protect and preserve personal freedoms."

Yale is among a growing number of universities changing policies regarding transgender rights, changes bathroom policies in May 2016. |

DeVos' Education Department and the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a letter Wednesday regarding the rescinding of two documents that formed the Obama directive's guidance.

"[The Obama directive] guidance documents do not ... contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process," read the joint letter.

"In addition, the Departments believe that, in this context, there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy."

According to sources cited by The New York Times, DeVos had been initially opposed to the rescinding of the directive. 

"Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off and told Mr. Trump that she was uncomfortable because of the potential harm that rescinding the protections could cause transgender students," reported the NY Times.

"Trump sided with his attorney general, the Republicans said, and told Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her opposition. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the alternative of resigning or defying the president, agreed to go along."

Last August, federal Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas issued a national injunction against President Obama's controversial directive telling public schools that they must allow transgender students to use the public facilities of their choice.

"Defendants are enjoined from enforcing the guidelines against plaintiffs and their respective schools, school boards, and other public, educationally-based institutions," decided O'Connor.

"All parties to this cause of action must maintain the status quo as of the date of issuance of this order and this preliminary injunction will remain in effect until the court rules on the merits of this claim, or until further direction from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals."

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that they were halting their defense of the transgender directive, noting that they were not going to try and end a nationwide injunction against the measure.

LGBT groups have denounced both actions by the Trump administration, with Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality stating that the reversal was an assault on transgender students.

"This is a mean-spirited attack on hundreds of thousands of students who simply want to be their true selves and be treated with dignity while attending school," stated Keisling, as reported by CNN.

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