Shortly before President Trump overturned former President Obama’s policy that granted transgender students access to the public restrooms that fit their personal gender identities, a representative of the LGBT employees on the Education Board issued a warning to Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos. DeVos reportedly told that employee that she opposed Trump’s decision, although no evidence of any public resistance on her part exists. Furthermore, her public speeches betray that opposition she supposedly expressed to the Education Board representative.
Through her previous educational and political experience in Michigan, DeVos obtained a reputation as a relentless fighter for conservative causes. Her public presentation of the issues related to transgender restroom policies reflects this reputation better than the purported expression of opposition against Trump’s action to rescind the Obama policy.
Those who knew DeVos in Michigan tend towards descriptions of her that contradict her public image since assuming the position as Secretary of Education. “Kind,” “pragmatic,” and “generous” are common words that her Michigan acquaintances on both sides of the political aisle tend to use for the pre-Trump Betsy DeVos. The same people, on the other hand, tend to describe DeVos in her current position as “unprepared,” “tone deaf,” and “insulated.”
In Michigan, DeVos was known for her priorities of charter schools and vouchers that allow public funding to pay for private and parochial school educations and for the use of her family’s fortune to donate to conservative, religious, and educational causes. DeVos has been known to express similar convictions in public since taking her position in Trump’s cabinet. However, reports of more private meetings like that with the representative of LGBT employees of the Education Board may reveal a different side of DeVos.
Are her private politeness and lavish financial contributions reflections of genuine generosity or a facade for political expediency? Do her driven public devotions to political convictions display pragmatism or incompetence? And do the apparent differences between the pre-Trump DeVos and the post-Trump DeVos contradict one another in a manner likely to be damaging, or are they merely a reflection of a complex human being?
Mysteries abound regarding Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, her actions, and her attitudes. Her correspondence with the representative of LGBT Education Board employees and the perceptions of her Michigan acquaintances only compound these mysteries. Only time will help to answer the questions we have asked and the many others related to who Betsy DeVos is.
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