The Education Department has once again sent the message that it is not inclusive of the LGBT community.
A quiet "Engaging Fathers and Families" event took place on Thursday and included speakers from Focus on the Family (FOTF) and Family Research Council (FRC). Politico was the first to report that these groups were on the agenda.
As a result, the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) pulled out of the event. The organization told BuzzFeed News in a statement that Focus on the Family and FRC were "not in alignment" with the National PTA's views on LGBT youth.
According to its registration page, the event was centered around fathers "improving education, wellness, and development for all children."
"Attendees will be school administrators and representatives from community and faith-based organizations and federal agencies," the page says.
The Education Department "is not going to be issuing decrees" on civil rights, according to DeVos.
An agenda was not made public prior to the event but BuzzFeed reportedly obtained a copy and stated that DeVos did not attend the event. Notably, however, FRC thanks the DeVos family for its generous donations.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) designates the Family Research Council, which is a division of Focus on the Family, as an extremist anti-LGBT hate group.
"Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed," FRC states on its website. "It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects."
In its coverage of the "Engaging Fathers and Families" event FRC wrote, "Moms can take on the roles of teachers, nurses, chauffeurs, even janitors. But one job they can't fill is dad's."
Research on the subject has not indicated this to be true. According to PolitiFact, "Research is still limited, but many reputable studies so far have concluded that children of gay parents, generally speaking, are just as well off as children of straight parents. What's more important is the number of parents a child has, experts told us." Studies have not concluded that the parents must be opposite-gendered.
"So-called 'conversion therapy' isn't therapy at all — it's a tortuous, fraudulent practice," said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), one of the bill's sponsors.
FRC believes that homosexuality can be "cured," indicating its support of so-called conversion therapy, which has been widely discredited and in fact is often considered harmful.
FOTF also supports conversion therapy.
Many credible organizations have come out in rejection of the practice, including the American Counseling Association, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselors Association and the World Psychiatric Association.
In March 2016 the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) called conversion therapy "wholly unethical."
In 2015, ahead of the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision, FOTF founder Dr. James Dobson said legalizing gay marriage would signal "the fall of Western civilization itself."
"I do not recall a time when the institutions of marriage and the family have faced such peril, or when the forces arrayed against them were more formidable or determined," he wrote. "Barring a miracle, the family that has existed since antiquity will likely crumble, presaging the fall of Western civilization itself."
The justices let stand a previous ruling that the ban was constitutional and neither impinged upon free exercise of religion nor impacted the activities of clergy members.
Today FOTF is headed by Jim Daly.
"Daly has made anti-LGBT statements in the past, including claiming that same-sex marriage endangers civilization; said that two gay parents contribute no value to parenting; that 'homosexual activists' wish to restrict the speech of anyone opposed to homosexuality and that 'it really is a form of fascism,'" SPLC reports. "He has also supported the discredited anti-LGBT study by sociologist Mark Regnerus."
The president was the guest of honor at a conference organized and sponsored by anti-LGBT groups just days ahead of the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
Several weeks ago DeVos refused to say LGBT students would be protected from discrimination at private schools. She said several times that schools receiving federal funding must abide by federal laws. But only 14 states plus D.C. have laws in place that address discrimination against students based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And in regard to school anti-bullying laws, only 20 states plus D.C. have laws that address harassment and/or bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
As Trump breaks tradition, daughter Ivanka receives backlash for empty support of LGBT community.
Earlier this month President Donald Trump delivered remarks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" conference, at which he was labeled the "keynote speaker and guest of honor" on June 8th, according to the agenda.
Vice President Mike Pence was also listed as a "keynote speaker and guest of honor."
Pence has long been an anti-LGBT figure, notably drawing criticism while serving as Indiana governor and signing a religious freedom bill that largely discriminated against LGBT people. Pence signed Indiana Senate Bill 101, or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), in 2015. The law allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT people under the guise of religious freedom. After pressure from big businesses that refused to do business in Indiana due to the bill's discriminatory nature (including Eli Lilly and Co., No. 16 on the 2017 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list), Pence signed an amendment that said businesses cannot turn people away based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
However, Pence's amendment did nothing to protect LGBT people from discrimination that already existed prior to RFRA. Today, Indiana still does not protect LGBT people from discrimination when it comes to housing, employment, hate crimes, public accommodations, school anti-bullying, education and transgender healthcare, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).