Credo Action

Tell Betsy DeVos: Protect students' civil rights

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The petition to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos reads:

“Use the power of your office to stand up for students' civil rights. Stop undoing policies and practices meant to protect them."

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    Tell Betsy DeVos: Protect students' civil rights

    The Department of Education under President Obama stood up for the civil rights of LGBTQ students, students of color, students with disabilities and survivors of sexual assault. But now that Betsy DeVos is charge, she is doing everything she can to turn her back on them.

    When DeVos is on television, the whole country can see her incompetency. But when the cameras fade, she can go back to her dangerous agenda of undermining public schools and public-school students whose race, class, gender or sexuality threaten her privileged, bigoted worldview. We have to make sure she knows we are paying attention and will hold her accountable.

    Tell Betsy DeVos: Stop undermining students' civil rights.

    DeVos has repeatedly refused to say whether she would stand up for LGBTQ students.1 She rescinded Obama-era protections for transgender students almost as soon as she was confirmed. This year, the DOE stopped investigating complaints from transgender students whose schools blocked them from bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.2

    Last year, after prominently including anti-woman "men’s rights" groups in discussions, DeVos rescinded Obama-era Title IX protections for survivors of campus sexual assault.3, 4 She also rescinded 72 guidance documents articulating the educational rights of students with disabilities.5

    Now, reports are highlighting the way that DeVos is turning her back on children of color who are the targets of aggressive school discipline at schools across the country.6 Last year, Candace Jackson, the DOE's acting head of the Office of Civil Rights, a long-time anti-feminist activist who has almost no experience with civil rights law and once claimed she faced discrimination because she was white, sent a memo to DOE investigators telling them not to look at discipline complaints with a systemic lens. Now, despite new data that clearly shows stark racial disparities in discipline, DeVos is considering ending Obama-era guidance that urged schools to limit expulsions and suspensions because of racial bias in how those punishments are applied.8

    When African-American boys are eight percent of America's students but are more than 23 percent of the students suspended and expelled, we have a national crisis.9 Help raise a national outcry to make sure Betsy DeVos treats it as one. Tell her to stand up for students' civil rights and stop undermining them.

    Thanks for everything you do.

    References:

    1. Michelangelo Signorile, "Betsy DeVos Is An Enemy Of LGBTQ People. Always Has Been. Always Will Be." HuffPost, May 25, 2017.
    2. Rep. Mark Pocan, "Betsy DeVos Denies Trans Students Basic Rights," ACLU, April 3, 2018.
    3. Kaitlan Menza, “Betsy DeVos’ Campus Rape Talks with Men’s Rights Groups Are a Travesty,” Self, July 14, 2017.
    4. Sophie Tatum, "Education Department withdraws Obama-era campus sexual assault guidance," CNN, Sept. 22, 2017.
    5. Moriah Balingit, " DeVos rescinds 72 guidance documents outlining rights for disabled students," The Washington Post, Oct. 21, 2017.
    6. Annie Waldman, Shutdown of Texas Schools Probe Shows Trump Administration Pullback on Civil Rights," ProPublica, April 23, 2018.
    7. Ibid
    8. Mark Keierleber, "Federal Civil Rights Data Highlight Racial Disparities in Discipline as DeVos Mulls Guidance Rollback," The 74, April 24, 2018.
    9. Waldman, Shutdown of Texas Schools Probe Shows Trump Administration Pullback on Civil Rights."