The confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Education, is still ongoing, but Sen Al Franken (D-Minn.) made it pretty clear that he wouldn’t be voting for her. During the hearing, he questioned DeVos regarding her family’s support so-called “conversion therapy.”
‘Mrs. DeVos, your family has a long history of supporting anti-LGBT causes including donating millions of dollars to groups that push conversion therapy, the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, you and your family have given over $10 million to Focus On the Family, an organization that currently states on its website that, “homosexual strugglers can and do change their sexual behavior and identity.”‘
Franken went on to explain that conversion therapy has been soundly rejected by the medical community as unscientific and unethical.
‘Mrs. DeVos, conversion therapy has been widely discredited and rejected for decades by every mainstream medical and mental health organization as neither medically nor ethically appropriate. It has been shown to lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide, particularly in LGBT youth. In fact, many of the leaders and founders of conversion therapy, including both religious ministries and mental health professionals, have not only publicly renounced it but have issued formal apologies for their work and how harmful it has been to the individuals involved. Mr. Chairman, I would ask that this be included in the record. ‘
For her part, DeVos said that she has never supported conversion therapy. During the hearing, she said that she believes all students should be able to attend schools without fear of discrimination.
Franken also questioned DeVos’ qualifications, specifically regarding her knowledge of student debt. DeVos said that student debt had increased by 980 percent in eight years, but Franken disputed her numbers.
‘That’s just not so. t’s increased 118 percent in the past 8 years. So, I’m just asking, if you’re challenging my figures, I would ask that you get your figures straight about education policy and that’s why we want more questions. Because we want to know if this person that we are entrusting to be the secretary of education, if she has the breadth and depth of knowledge that we would expect from someone who has that important job.’
For more information, you can see the entire exchange below:
Featured image via Getty Images.