((AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File))

Betsy DeVos didn't cite sources in questionnaire answers about LGBT students

DeVos may have lifted her responses to questions about LGBT students


Matthew Rozsa
January 31, 2017 10:20AM (UTC)

Betsy DeVos, the billionaire school choice advocate and Republican donor who President Donald Trump has chosen as his next secretary of education, appears to have used quotes or near-quotes from various sources without citing them.

In a questionnaire sent regarding her views on the problems facing LGBT students in public schools, DeVos seems to have written responses that closely mirror the language of other texts without offering attribution, according to a report by The Washington Post on Tuesday.

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When asked about the bullying of LGBT students, DeVos wrote: "Every child deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment where they can learn, thrive, and grow."

That mirrored an answer from Vanita Gupta, former head of  the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Barack Obama: "Every child deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment that allows them to thrive and grow."

When asked about the rights of LGBT students, such as transgender students using the bathrooms consistent with their self-identified gender: "Every student deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment where they can learn, achieve and thrive and are not discriminated against. Period."

From a magazine article published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: "You — as an educator and an ally — can dramatically shift the school climate to one that is safe, supportive, and inclusive: a place where all students can learn, achieve, and thrive."

When asked if she would continue publicizing which schools are being investigated for alleged civil rights violations under Title IX, DeVos wrote: "Opening a complaint for investigation in no way implies that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has made a determination about the merits of the complaint."

The education department website says: "Opening a complaint for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination with regard to the merits of the complaint."

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The Washington Post also claims that DeVos quotes a 1979 federal statute verbatim without attribution.

The new revelations are causing some Republicans to second-guess their support for Trump's education secretary pick.

Despite this seeming sloppiness on DeVos' part, there is no indication that her nomination is going to be rejected.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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