On Thursday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered a devastating speech about the department's plans to roll back Title IX enforcement.

Implemented in 1972, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities that receive federal funding. It was instrumental in providing equal opportunity for female student-athletes and in administrative matters. Just as importantly, however, is its power to protect students seeking justice in sexual assault and harassment cases.

It's that last part, about harassment and assault, that DeVos went after.


The Obama administration ramped up Title IX enforcement by instructing schools and administrators to take active steps to fight campus assault. The Trump administration aims to revert those changes.

"The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students," DeVos said at George Mason University. "Survivors, victims of a lack of due process, and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved."

While no official policy was announced, DeVos indicated the department plans to solicit feedback and implement new guidelines in the coming months.

Women's rights advocates and organizations geared toward fighting sexual assault made their presence known, both online and in person.

The day before DeVos' speech, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) rallied in the rain outside the Department of Education.

Groups like NARAL Pro-Choice were on the ground, out in full force.

And a host of other groups weighed in with fact sheets, graphics, and petitions, using the hashtag #StopBetsy.

The voices that weren't heard nearly enough in all this, however, were those of the survivors of sexual assault.

A look at Twitter uncovered a sense of betrayal and re-traumatization among assault survivors. Many noted the low percentage of reported assaults that turn out to be false, while others offered support to classmates, colleagues, and total strangers who've shared similar traumatizing experiences.

Everybody is against sexual assault, right? That's a no-brainer. Yet actions like this from the Trump administration seem to try to level the playing field and treat victims and assailants as equals.

As comedy writer Nick Jack Pappas noted, most of us probably would have thought that condemning white supremacists was a similarly easy move.

ProPublica education reporter Annie Waldman unleashed a detailed thread outlining DeVos' attacks on some of the Department of Education's core functions in civil rights and consumer protections. In other words, the Title IX news is just the latest in a long line of disappointing moves.

Whether it's Title IX enforcement (which offers protections to people of all genders), ensuring that trans people aren't discriminated against, protecting students from scams, or a host of other issues, the DeVos Department of Education is a proverbial wrecking ball.

There are actionable things DeVos could have proposed if the concern was really to protect against false reports.

For instance, in a 2016 TED Talk, Jessica Ladd outlined a simple and secure way to protect survivors as well as the due process of the person being accused. That's the type of innovation that could actually address the concerns DeVos raised. Instead, she seems intent on taking a back to the drawing board approach to addressing campus assault that's likely to do little more than ensure that fewer students receive justice.

For more information on how you can help protect Title IX, check out the following groups: Know Your IX, End Rape on Campus, the National Women's Law Center, Ultraviolet, and the Inanna Project.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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