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Our New Hero: Genderqueer Middle Schooler Wears Transgender Flag as a Cape to Meet Betsy DeVos

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is still taking time out of her busy schedule of rolling back protections for victims of sexual assault and suggesting that schools might want to call ICE on undocumented children to visit a couple of public schools. (And all that despite her utter lack of experience with the public school system before taking the position that oversees it.)

On a recent visit to Michigan’s Grand Rapids Public Museum School, DeVos met our new hero, 14-year-old genderqueer 8th grader Torin Hodgman. According to Michigan Live, Hodgman came prepared with a question for a planned roundtable discussion. They wanted to ask DeVos what she’s doing “to ensure schools are safe learning environments for LGBT students and others who are questioning their gender identity.”

It’s an important question, seeing as 75% of transgender students have reported feeling unsafe at school. As Hodgman notes, “Out of all LGBTQ … and actually all teenagers, transgender and questioning people have a higher rate of suicide and deaths than anybody else.”

Hodgman didn’t get a chance to ask their question, but I’m guessing they still made an impact on DeVos, as they showed up to the meet & greet wearing the transgender flag as a glorious floor-length cape. Lando would be proud.

Hodgman said the point they wanted to make was simply that DeVos can’t ignore trans students because they’re a very real presence in schools. “Public schools are a place for all children,” they said.

DeVos does have a history of ignoring or outright discriminating against LGBTQ students. Since she’s been serving as secretary, the Department of Education has rolled back Obama-era guidelines giving transgender students the right to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, calling it a state or local issue and dismissing all the reasons why federal guidelines were needed in the first place. (Hint: those state and local level decision don’t always work out so well for marginalized students.) She’s refused to pledge that federal money wouldn’t go to schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students and the Education Department is also no longer investigating complaints of discrimination from transgender students barred from using their bathroom or locker room.

Well done, Torin Hodgman, for finding such an awesome way to protest/silently troll DeVos during her visit.

(via The Slot, image: screencap)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.