Betsy DeVos Greeted By Teen Wearing Transgender Pride Flag During School Visit

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was challenged during her recent hometown visit to Michigan by a local middle school student looking for an explanation of her transgender policies. Torin Hodgman, an eighth-grader at Grand Rapids Public Museum School, greeted DeVos during her visit to the school by donning a transgender pride flag.

Hodgman identifies as genderqueer and prefers to be addressed by the pronouns "they" or "them," Michigan news website MLIVE reported on Tuesday. When learning that DeVos was going to make an appearance at their school, Hodgman draped a large transgender pride flag over her back and prepared to ask her about how she plans to create a safe learning environment for students who are a part of the LGBT community.

During her tenure as the country's secretary of education, DeVos has rolled back Obama-era legislation that protected and supported transgender students. In February of 2017, her department revoked Obama-era guidelines that said transgender students should be able to use the restrooms that matched their identity. And, earlier this year, DeVos said that her department will no longer investigate civil rights complaints by transgender students over being barred from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.

When questioned further about her views on the issue last year, DeVos turned the responsibility onto the states and said that they would better equipped do maker their own decisions regarding the school environment for their LGBT students.

Videos of DeVos and Hodgman Tuesday showed the two walking through the school together, but Hodgman later told MLIVE that they were not able to ask her any questions. But Hodgman expressed hope that the decision to wear the transgender flag sent a message about the need for safety and support for LGBT students across the country.

After her visit to the school, DeVos sat down for a full press conference with several media outlets. When asked what federal work is being done to address school safety, DeVos pointed to the president's creation of the School Safety Commission of which she is the chair. The report, which will be rolled out during the summer, is expected to provide quick answers to some of the most pressing issues regarding school safety and will seek input from teachers, students, law enforcement and other groups committed to ensuring a safe educational environment.

The commission will focus on keeping students safe from all forms of violence and emotional disturbances, ranging from gun violence to bullying. While the report may include some federal legislation, DeVos said, it will mostly serve as a resource for communities across the country to share and integrate their own individual ideas and policies.

"Every student should be in a situation where they feel safe and secure," DeVos added during the press conference.

Betsy DeVos talks to students in the White House during a listening session sponsored by First Lady Melania Trump. In her most recent school visit, DeVos was challenged by a transgender teen on her LGBT school policies. Joshua Roberts/Reuters