Betsy DeVos: The Facts

Document Date: December 29, 2016

The Secretary of Education is tasked with developing and overseeing most federal assistance to education, and with enforcing educational laws regarding privacy and civil rights. In the past the Secretary has exercised discretionary control over aspects of civil rights policy, such as the outgoing Secretary’s guidance that students be allowed to access the school restroom that best fits their gender identity.

The Secretary has influence over the development of education and civil rights policy and sits at the center of debates over the separation of church and state and affirmative-action. In her confirmation hearings, Betsy DeVos should seek to demonstrate that she will work to protect and serve all of our students, regardless of their religion, race, class, or sexual- or gender-orientation.

The Facts

  • Contributes significant funding (Source) to organizations that seek to limit women’s reproductive freedom, including:
    • Americans United for Life
    • Baptists for Life
    • The Becket Fund
    • Citizens for Traditional Values
    • Foundation for Traditional Values
    • Justice Foundation
    • Right to Life of Michigan Education Foundation
    • Texas Justice Foundation
    • Thomas More Law Center
  • Has been labeled the “four star general” of school vouchers (Source), which have repeatedly been challenged in the courts by the ACLU for undermining the separation between church and state, enabling discrimination, and lowering educational outcomes. (Source)
  • Supports the Center for Individual Rights (Source), an organization largely concerned with overturning affirmative-action legislation. (Source)
  • Contributed to the Southeastern Legal Foundation (Source), which works to overturn affirmative action and voting rights legislation. (Source)
  • Established the DeVos Center for Religion and Society, which funds research and publications opposed to same-sex marriage and transgender rights. (Source)
  • Financially supports (Source) a number of organizations opposed to LGBT equality, including:
    • Center for Military Readiness, which opposes allowing LGBT people to serve in the armed forces (Source);
    • The Family Research Council*, which lobbies against same-sex marriage, same-sex civil-unions, and LGBT adoption (Source);
    • Focus on the Family, an advocacy organization that promotes “conversion therapy” and opposes same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption (Source);
    • Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, an opponent of same-sex marriage (Source);
    • Towards Tradition, whose founder argued that it was “insane” that gays were not quarantined during the AIDS crisis (Source);
    • Thomas More Law Center, which fought the legalization of same-sex marriage through the courts (Source).

* This organization has been labeled an extremist anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Source)