Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education, has had a controversial term to say the least. With her much publicised decision to refuse ruling out federal funds for religious schools who discriminate against LGBT+ and minority students, 14 year-old genderqueer student Torin Hodgman’s act of protest couldn’t be more welcome. DeVos visited the Grand Rapids Public Museum School, accompanied by the student who spent the entire duration draped in the Trans flag.
Hodgman spoke to local news station MLive about their decision to wear the trans flag, saying it was meant to highlight that “public schools are a place for all children.” Hodgman continued, “ Out of all LGBTQ, and actually all teenagers, transgender and questioning people have a higher rate of suicide and deaths than anybody else.”
The statement was made in regard to the Trump cabinet’s decision to overturn guidelines introduced by President Obama advising schools to give trans students the right to use the bathroom which corresponded to their gender identity, in addition to the school recognising their preferred gender pronouns. In an equally disturbing move, not only were those rights removed, but the Education Department also announced it would no longer investigate complaints from those students blocked from using said bathrooms.
Hodgman had prepared a question for the Education Secretary in advance of her visit but was unable to deliver it on the day. It read – ‘What is DeVos doing to ensure schools are safe learning environments for LGBT students and others who are questioning their gender identity?’ Prior to her appointment, DeVos was a billionaire businesswoman with no experience in the role whatsoever.
While the question may have remained unasked, Betsy DeVos seemingly having no clue what the flag represented spoke volumes. Hodgman’s bravery in making the statement, coupled with the attention their action will bring to the fight for LGBT+ rights proved that sometimes, heroes do wear capes.
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