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To Get DeVos’ Attention, LGBT Advocates Project Data Onto Ed. Dept. Headquarters

By Alyson Klein — May 24, 2018 1 min read
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Human Rights Campaign wanted U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to pay close attention to the results of a survey it conducted that showed lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender students often feel unsafe in school.

How much did the group want her to pay attention? So much that it projected the results of the survey onto the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters at 400 Maryland Ave, at night-time, the organization announced Wednesday.

One message read: “Betsy DeVos, how do you sleep at night when only 26 percent of LGBTQ youth always feel safe in class?”

“Betsy DeVos has spent the last year and half relentlessly attacking the rights of transgender students, youth of color, survivors of sexual assault, and students with disabilities,” said Ellen Kahn, HRC’s Director of Children, Youth and Families Programs in a statement. “Given the disastrous and dangerous actions of [President] Donald Trump and [Vice President] Mike Pence, the question must be asked of everyone in this administration, ‘How do you sleep at night?’”

A U.S. Department spokeswoman did not immediately return an email asking for comment, and confirmation.

Early on, the Trump administration scrapped Obama-era guidance that made it clear schools should allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity, not necessarily the gender of their birth. The Trump administration has also angered civil rights advocates, including LGBT advocates, by narrowing the scope of civil rights investigations to stop looking automatically for evidence of systemic discrimination.

The Human Rights Campaign survey, which was conducted with the University of Connecticut, also found that:

  • Seventy-seven percent of LGBTQ teenagers surveyed report feeling depressed or down over the past week;
  • Ninety-five percent of LGBTQ youth report trouble sleeping at night;
  • Only 26 percent say they always feel safe in their school classrooms. Just 5 percent say all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ people.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the organization that conducted the survey. It is the Human Rights Campaign.

Human Rights Campaign projects a message to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on the U.S. Department of Education building on May 23, 2018 in Washington.
--Kevin Wolf/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign

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