Metro Weekly

HRC shames Betsy DeVos with messages projected on Education Department headquarters

Projections cite statistics from survey showing LGBTQ youth face high levels of stress, anxiety, and rejection

Photo: Kevin Wolf/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign.

The Human Rights Campaign publicly chastised Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday night for failing to protect LGBTQ students in schools.

HRC was motivated to reprimand DeVos for her actions — including the rescinding of vital guidance that allowed transgender students to be treated according to their gender identity — after the release of results from a groundbreaking survey of LGBTQ teens that revealed many face disproportionately high levels of stress, anxiety, and rejection in their daily lives, and often feel unsafe in school.

The projection asked DeVos: “How do you sleep at night?” and then included various statistics from the 2017 LGBTQ Teen Survey, such as that 70% of LGBTQ youth report being bullied, or that 95% report they have trouble sleeping at night due to the high level of anxiety in their daily lives.

DeVos has previously said she will not change the department’s current policy regarding transgender students until either the Supreme Court or Congress takes action to clarify that Title IX applies to transgender students. Under the current policy, the department’s Office for Civil Rights may choose to investigate instances of harassment against transgender students, but will not hear complaints relating to being barred from restrooms or locker rooms matching their gender identity.

“Betsy DeVos has spent the last year-and-a-half relentlessly attacking the rights of transgender students, youth of color, survivors of sexual assault and students with disabilities,” Ellen Kahn, HRC’s director of Children, Youth and Families Programs, said in a statement.

“While these survey results underscore the challenges facing LGBTQ youth, it also reflects their perseverance and strength in the face of bullies — whether in their classrooms or the federal government,” she added. “Given the disastrous and dangerous actions of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the question must be asked of everyone in this administration, ‘how do you sleep at night?'”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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