Connect with us

News

DeVos still won’t say federal law bars anti-LGBT discrimination

Education secretary insists schools must follow federal law

Published

on

Betsy DeVos, gay news, Washington Blade

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wouldn’t say charter schools are barred from anti-LGBT discrimination. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Weeks after facing criticism for refusing to speak out in congressional testimony against anti-LGBT discrimination in charter schools, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos still won’t say federal law prohibits them from discriminating against LGBT students.

DeVos on Tuesday referred generally to rules under federal law in a testy exchange on whether she’d speak out against anti-LGBT discrimination in charter schools with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who said the statute in this area is “somewhat foggy.”

Although DeVos acknowledged charter schools aren’t eligible for U.S. government money if they violate federal laws against discrimination, she dodged when asked specifically if charter schools under her plan would be able to discriminate against LGBT students.

“I said it before and I’ll say it again that schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law,” said DeVos, who’s promoting a Trump administration plan that calls for a $250 million increase in school voucher funds.

When Merkley insisted federal law is foggy and pressed DeVos again on whether anti-LGBT discrimination would be allowed under her proposal, she said, “On areas where the law is unsettled, this department is not going to be issuing decrees. That is a matter for Congress and the courts.”

Merkley interrupted to seek clarification, but DeVos would only repeat her deference to Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court when the law is unclear.

Visibly frustrated, Merkley said he interprets DeVos’ response to mean “where it’s unsettled, such discrimination will continue to be allowed under your program,” adding if that interpretation is incorrect, she should make a correction in the record.

Asked the same question as it pertains to discrimination against students on the basis of religion, DeVos’ response was no different.

“Again, for schools that receive federal funds, federal law must be followed,” DeVos said.

When Merkley demanded DeVos answer the question as it pertains to religious discrimination against students, she said, “Schools that receive federal funds will follow federal law. Period.”

The Oregon Democrat rebuked DeVos for a response he said is too vague.

“You’re refusing to answer the question,” Merkley said. “I think that’s very important for the public to know that today the secretary of education before this committee refused to affirm that she would put forward a program that bans discrimination based on LGBTQ status of students or bans discrimination based on religion.”

DeVos protested Merkley’s characterization of her words, denying her response indicated any support for allowing discrimination in charter schools.

“Sir, that’s not what I said,” DeVos said. “That’s not what I said. Discrimination in any form is wrong. I don’t support discrimination in any form.”

Merkley asked for a yes-or-no answer on whether DeVos’ program bans discrimination, the education secretary replied, “What program are you talking about?” Merkley said it was her charter and private school grant proposals, prompting DeVos to repeat her previous response.

“As I said before, and let me say it again, schools that receive federal funds need to follow federal law. Period,” DeVos said.

Interrupting DeVos, Merkley concluded, “You said the same thing 10 times without answering the question at all.”

Although she wouldn’t say federal law bars discrimination against LGBT students, DeVos’ general repudiation of discrimination in any form is different from an earlier exchange with Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.). At the time, DeVos wouldn’t denounce discrimination in any capacity when asked about anti-LGBT or racial discrimination in charter schools.

Denouncing DeVos for her response was Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, who said in a statement the secretary’s words were leaving LGBT students out in the cold.

“By once again turning a blind eye to LGBTQ students who experience discrimination in school, Secretary DeVos continues to prove why she was the wrong choice to lead our nation’s education system,” Ellis said. “DeVos once claimed she was an LGBTQ ally, but has now supported back to back policies that would erase LGBTQ students from classrooms. If she wants to be known as more than an anti-LGBTQ activist the time is now to reverse course.”

Federal law doesn’t explicitly ban anti-LGBT discrimination, but it does bar sex discrimination. Courts are increasingly interpreting those laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. That’s likely what Merkley meant when he said existing federal law on the issue is “somewhat foggy.”

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin for any school accepting federal funds, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex for any school accepting federal funds. There is an exemption in Title IX for religious schools, but not for charter or secular private schools.

The Obama administration had issued guidance making clear Title IX precludes schools from barring transgender students from the restroom consistent with their gender identity, but DeVos along with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked it at the start of the Trump administration. Media reports indicated DeVos resisted that move and she later met with LGBT groups and transgender students at the Education Department.

Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, said she’s “glad to hear” DeVos opposes discrimination, but called for action.

“Words alone are insufficient,” Gupta said. “She must use her authority as secretary to make that prohibition and those protections for students real. The department must also proactively support schools to prevent discrimination and intervene when the law is broken. This can’t just be about talk; students need and deserve action.”

Merkley is lead sponsor in the Senate of the Equality Act, comprehensive legislation that would make explicit a ban on anti-LGBT discrimination in every area of civil rights law, including education.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Biden recognizes 10th anniversary of end to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Pete Buttigieg, Gina Ortiz Jones named in White House statement

Published

on

President Biden recognized in a statement on Monday the tenth anniversary of the end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a law that once discharged service members from the military for being openly gay or bisexual.

“Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members,” Biden said. “The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ which formally barred gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from openly serving, helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all.”

Biden recognized high-profile openly gay appointees in his administrations who are also veterans, naming Air Force Under Secretary Gina Ortiz Jones and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Biden also names Shawn Skelly, assistant secretary of defense for readiness, who would have been discharged from the military under President Trump’s transgender military ban.

“On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation,” Biden said. “We must honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people, including by finally passing the Equality Act and living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all.”

Technically speaking, the anniversary of Obama signing repeal legislation was in December. Today is the anniversary of defense officials certifying the military is ready, which put an end to the policy.

Read Biden’s full statement below:

Statement by President Joe Biden on the Tenth Anniversary of the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which formally barred gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from openly serving, helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. It was the right thing to do. And, it showed once again that America is at its best when we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

Despite serving with extraordinary honor and courage throughout our history, more than 100,000 American service members have been discharged because of their sexual orientation or gender identity—including some 14,000 under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Many of these veterans received what are known as “other than honorable” discharges, excluding them and their families from the vitally important services and benefits they had sacrificed so much to earn.

As a U.S. Senator, I supported allowing service members to serve openly, and as Vice President, I was proud to champion the repeal of this policy and to stand beside President Obama as he signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act into law. As President, I am honored to be Commander-in-Chief of the strongest and most inclusive military in our nation’s history. Today, our military doesn’t just welcome LGBTQ+ service members—it is led at the highest levels by brave LGBTQ+ veterans, including Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness Shawn Skelly, who served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I was gratified to appoint the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and Afghanistan veteran who joined the military under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. And during my first week in office, I proudly delivered on my pledge to repeal the discriminatory ban on open service by patriotic transgender service members.

On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation. We must honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people, including by finally passing the Equality Act and living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all.

Continue Reading

En Espanol

JOH llama ‘enemigos de la independencia’ a defensores de derechos de poblaciones LGBTQ, las mujeres y el territorio

Activistas criticaron al presidente de Honduras por su discurso

Published

on

(Gráfica por Reportar sin Miedo)

Reportar sin Miedo es el socio mediático del Washington Blade en Honduras. Esta nota salió en su sitio web el 15 de septiembre.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — La oposición desfila al mismo tiempo que los representantes del gobierno hondureño, los discursos oficiales retumban en los megáfonos al lado de los gritos de reclamo de los grupos de denuncia.

Mientras el oficialismo celebra lo que considera sus “logros”, la oposición se lamenta por 200 años de desigualdad, discriminación, pobreza, robo, hambre, saqueo, genocidio, corrupción, impunidad, machismo, LGBTI+ odio y expulsión forzada. 

En medio del ambiente de contrastes en que se conmemora hoy el bicentenario de independencia en Honduras, sobresale el discurso del presidente hondureño Juan Orlando Hernández, quien llamó “enemigos de la independencia” a los defensores de los derechos de las poblaciones LGBTIQ+, las mujeres y el territorio.

“Hoy salen con más fuerza otros enemigos de la independencia: el ataque a los principios cristianos, el ataque al concepto de la familia, los que promueven los matrimonios entre personas de diferente sexo y la preservación de la vida de los niños no nacidos”, dijo JOH en el estadio Nacional de Tegucigalpa durante los actos conmemorativos del bicentenario.

El mandatario hondureño cometió un grave error al decir “los matrimonios entre personas de diferente sexo”. Sus críticos opinan que JOH iba a decir “matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo”, pero en el último momento se echó para atrás y cambió la frase por alguna razón.

El gobernante se refirió con la frase “enemigos de la independencia” a las organizaciones que promueven el derecho a decidir sobre el cuerpo de las mujeres, así como los derechos de la diversidad sexual y lxs defensorxs de territorio que están exigiendo a diario que se deroguen las ZEDE.

Este es el primer pronunciamiento público de JOH tras que el 28 de junio de este año, la Corte IDH condenó a Honduras por el asesinato de la trans Vicky Hernández y otros en el marco del golpe de Estado liderado por Roberto Micheletti contra el expresidente Manuel Zelaya. 

En su sentencia, el órgano judicial pidió al Estado hondureño continuar las investigaciones del homicidio y llevar a cabo “un acto público de reconocimiento de responsabilidad internacional”.

También le solicitó crear la beca educativa “Vicky Hernández” para mujeres trans, capacitar a los cuerpos de seguridad y reconocer la identidad de género en los documentos de identidad y registros públicos.

Finalmente, la Corte IDH le exigió al gobierno instaurar protocolos para seguir e investigar casos de violencia contra personas LGBTI.

En el discurso que duró casi media hora, JOH pronunció en varias ocasiones las palabras “Dios” y “cristianismo”. Eso indica que su gobierno tiene una fuerte influencia de las Iglesias evangélicas y católica.

El discurso del mandatario contradice lo que dice la Constitución, la cual señala que el Estado hondureño es laico.

Piden derechos igualitarios 

“No hay independencia sin el derecho a decidir”, exclamaron las seguidoras del colectivo Somos Muchas en las calles de Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Choluteca y otros municipios. Somos Muchas exige que las mujeres hondureñas tengan acceso a un aborto seguro y gratuito por las tres causales: cuando el embarazo es consecuencia de una violación sexual, cuando la vida de la mujer está en riesgo y cuando el feto tiene complicaciones graves que le causarán la muerte al nacer.

La directora de Acción Joven, Jinna Rosales, manifestó que el discurso de Hernández es “terrible” y de “doble moral” porque se vive en un estado de narcodictadura, asesinatos, crímenes, etcétera.

“A Hernández se le olvidó la vida de las personas ya nacidas porque todos los días se reportan feminicidios, crímenes contra las niñas, niños, niñes y adolescentes. También miles huyen a diario de Honduras porque no tienen las condiciones básicas para sobrevivir”, argumentó Rosales. 

Desde ese punto de vista, los grupos conservadores hondureños rechazan el aborto, que consideran un atentado contra la vida. Sin embargo, no toman en cuenta los ataques contra mujeres, pues desde enero hasta el 31 de julio del 2021 se han registrado 174 feminicidios. Además, según las cifras oficiales se han cometido 3,496 homicidios en Honduras en el año 2020. Mientras tanto, la Secretaría de Salud reportó más de 12,000 egresos por aborto en 2019 y 9,749 en el 2020. 

Tampoco el gobierno de JOH ha actuado con eficacia para reducir la inseguridad alimentaria, que se ha duplicado en Honduras. Los 1.8 millones de personas sin alimentos seguros antes de la pandemia han subido a 3.3 millones publica la ONU.

Por otro lado, en enero del 2021, el Congreso Nacional criminalizó el derecho a decidir de las mujeres y las uniones igualitarias. 

El activista LGBTIQ+ de Honduras, Osman Lara, expresó a Reportar sin Miedo que el mensaje de Hernández es un ataque directo al programa de gobierno que impulsa la candidata Xiomara Castro de Zelaya por el Partido Libre en las próximas elecciones a celebrarse el 28 de noviembre del 2021.

Hernández lo que está provocando es desinformación, según Lara. “Quiere confundir a la población, ya que las personas LGBTIQ+ no buscamos reconocimiento religioso, sino legal, que nos avale y garantice los derechos civiles, económicos, sociales y patrimoniales cuando te unes a otra persona de forma igualitaria”, agregó. “Su ataque es misógino, promueve el odio a las poblaciones de la diversidad sexual”.

En Honduras, desde el 2009 hasta el 2021 han sido asesinadas 389 personas LGBTIQ+, de las cuales en este año han sido asesinadas 10 gays, tres trans y tres lesbianas, según el monitoreo de muertes violentas que mantiene la Red Lésbica Cattrachas. 

JOH le teme al pensamiento distinto

“Nuestros pueblos deben avanzar aceleradamente a la integración económica porque unidos somos invencibles. Los pueblos centroamericanos deben de ser esa nación fuerte, próspera, visionaria por la que lucharon los padres de la independencia”, expresó el presidente Hernández en su discurso de bicentenario. 

Sobre las palabras del mandatario se pronunció el coordinador general de Arcah y defensor de territorio, Christopher Castillo. Para Castillo, el gobierno nacionalista ha abonado el camino para que la población rechace los avances progresistas. 

“Ahora están avalando el más grande proyecto colonialista como son las ZEDE”, dijo Castillo. “El Partido Nacional ha caído en popularidad y teme un despertar de las conciencias en temas torales que tratan de impedir que la sociedad avance”. 

El gobierno de JOH ha respondido a los críticos de las ZEDE asegurando en un comunicado que las ciudades modelos ofrecen “oportunidades de inversión, construcción y operación de empresas de servicios públicos”.

Las ZEDE tienen “un régimen fiscal especial, un régimen financiero independiente, están autorizadas a utilizar sus ingresos financieros exclusivamente para sus propios fines”, según fuentes gubernamentales.

Por medio de esta iniciativa, Juan Orlando Hernández asegura que va a atraer inversión extranjera supuestamente para lograr un crecimiento acelerado dando empleos masivos y mejorando la vida de la población.

Por otra parte, el defensor de territorio Christopher Castillo agregó que JOH busca, “por medio de su discurso, deslegitimar las propuestas progresistas de los partidos de la oposición que proponen nuevos modelos de familia y nuevas formas de coexistir entre los géneros. Necesitan legitimar la violencia para justificar el uso de más violencia”.

Castillo agregó que el discurso de Hernández reconoce que ha avanzado la construcción de un pensamiento distinto. 

“Eso les atemoriza porque pone en juego toda esa construcción derechista que han intentado imponer. Tratan de seguir legitimando las propuestas de las ZEDE como Próspera porque traen para ellos una cultura de éxito y de prosperidad del pensamiento capitalista y conservador”, dijo Castillo.

El discurso de JOH se da después de que el pasado martes 14 de septiembre unas 29 organizaciones hondureñas pidieron al Consejo Nacional Electoral que sancione las campañas con mensajes de desinformación y discriminación utilizadas por algunos partidos políticos.

“Exigimos al Ministerio Público actuar de oficio contra cualquier persona natural o jurídica, pública o privada que públicamente promueva, incite, difunda mensajes desde cualquier medio o canal de comunicación, a la discriminación, tal como se contempla en el código penal en su artículo 213”, señalan las 29 organizaciones en un comunicado.

La reacción de estos organismos se debe a los mensajes de grupos cristianos en las redes sociales contra el plan de gobierno de Libre que promueve el derecho a decidir y el matrimonio igualitario. 



Continue Reading

World

Thousands participate in Kyiv Pride march

Event took place without violence

Published

on

Kiev, gay news, Washington Blade
(Photo by Jorge Franganillo via Flickr)

Upwards of 7,000 people on Sunday took part in the Ukrainian capital’s annual Pride march.

The Associated Press reported Kyiv Pride participants, among other things, demanded the country’s lawmakers allow civil partnerships for same-sex couples and create a law against hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has introduced a measure that would make the country’s hate crimes law LGBTQ inclusive.

“We’ve grown tired of waiting for change and enduring systematic intimidation, pressure, disruption of peaceful events, attacks on activists and the LGBT community,” said Kyiv Pride in a statement to the Associated Press. “We demand changes here and now, as we want to live freely in our own country.”

The march took place less than a month after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly said his government will continue to fight discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“With U.S. support, Ukraine will continue to advance respect for human rights, civil liberties and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international standards and obligations, as well as to fight racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community,” reads a joint statement the White House released on Sept. 1 after Zelenskyy met with President Biden. “Ukraine plans to strengthen accountability for violence against all persons regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political views, including through legislation.”

Far-right extremists in 2019 attacked several people who attended Kyiv Pride. Members of a Ukrainian nationalist group in 2015 injured nine police officers who had been deployed to an LGBTQ rights march that coincided with Kyiv Pride.  

Sunday’s march took place without violence.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular