A day-long event at the Department of Education building in Washington, D.C. meant to engage American fathers in their children’s education timed for this Sunday’s observance of Father’s Day featured two Christian groups opposed to LGBTQ rights — one of which Education Secretary Betsy DeVos specifically refuted reports that she supported during her confirmation hearing.
Politico was first to report that the groups invited to Thursday’s event were the Family Research Council, founded by notorious homophobe Tony Perkins and flagged as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Focus on the Family, which is a proponent of “ex-gay,” or conversion therapy — a controversial practice that claims to change a gay or transgender person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and one that is banned in nine states and three cities.
The Focus on the Family group also promotes creationism, school prayer and traditional male/female gender roles. Although DeVos and her husband have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the group, records show they haven’t donated any money in more than a decade. At the time, DeVos insisted she’s never believed in conversion therapy and that her personal views shouldn’t be confused with those of her family members. In fact, DeVos testified under oath that is was a “clerical error” that she was listed as an officer on her parents’ foundation, which has consistently donated to the group.
SPLC also noted Focus on the Family representatives argued anti-bullying efforts that draw attention to the harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students are part of a “gay agenda” to “sneak homosexuality lessons into classrooms.”
According to information released to announce the event, the Trump administration’s “Engaging Fathers and Families” conference convened a range of education, community and faith-based organizations to discuss family engagement.
DeVos was not the only member of the department scheduled to appear, Politico reported. Several top Trump administration officials are slated to speak, including Acting Undersecretary of Education James Manning and Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Jason Botel.