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Equity & Diversity

Sen. Al Franken, LGBT Student Rights Advocate and DeVos Critic, Will Resign

By Andrew Ujifusa — December 07, 2017 1 min read
U.S. Sen. Al Franken speaks at a Senate education committee markup on a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. He wants to include specific language in the bill to protect students from being bullied because of their sexual orientation.
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Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat and a member of the Senate education committee, announced Wednesday that he was stepping down in the coming weeks, in the face of allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women.

On Tuesday, the majority of the Senate Democratic caucus called on Franken to step aside, including Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the Senate education committee. Other Democratic members of that committee to call for Franken to resign include Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

During his time in the Senate and on the education committee, Franken developed a reputation as a vocal support of LGBT student rights. He backed the Obama administration’s move in 2016 to tell schools through guidance that transgender students’ access to locker rooms and restrooms matching their gender identities was covered by Title IX. Franken also sought to shield LGBT students from bullying.

He also sparred with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos during her confirmation hearing last January, questioning her understanding of the concepts of academic progress and growth. Like every Senate Democrat, he voted against her confirmation as secretary, and called her unqualified for the job.