CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Students at Harvard University staged a protest Thursday as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered an address on school choice.

Some held up fists. One held up a sign reading, “White supremacist.” Others called for protections for victims of campus sexual assault.

DeVos last week revoked Obama administration guidance that instructed colleges on how to handle sexual assault cases.

She did not interrupt her speech Thursday to address the protesters, but later took some pointed questions from the audience. The protest was mostly silent, though some students snapped their fingers or cheered in support of some questions.

Asked about protections for transgender students, DeVos said she is committed to making sure all students are safe. Earlier this year, she rescinded guidance that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms that matched their gender identity.

“With respect to any student that feels unsafe or discriminated against in their school, that is the last thing we want and the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education continues to hear and work with the schools that have any of those issues to deal with,” DeVos said. “And we are committed to doing that on behalf of the students.”

She said she wants new rules on campus sexual assault to be fair to both the victims and the accused. “One sexual assault is one too many,” DeVos said. “By the same token, one student that is denied due process is one to many. So we need to ensure that that policy and that framework is fair to all students.”

Another student said school choice is used by large corporation to make profits and asked DeVos how much she expects her net worth to increase as a result of her policies.

DeVos took the question in stride. “I have written lots of checks to support giving parents and kids options to choose a school of their choice,” DeVos said. “The balance on my income has gone very much the other way and will continue to do so.”

School choice refers to efforts that give students options other than their local public schools, such as charter or private schools. Charter schools are funded by public money but usually operated by entities that are independent of school districts.

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