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The Education Department Quietly Invited Anti-LGBT Groups To A Father's Day Event

The move prompted the National Parent Teacher Association to pull out of the daylong "Engaging Fathers and Families" event.

Posted on June 15, 2017, at 3:44 p.m. ET

Alex Wong / Getty Images

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

The Education Department invited representatives from two anti-LGBT groups to speak on a panel on Thursday, a move that prompted the National Parent Teacher Association to pull out of the daylong "Engaging Fathers and Families" event.

Representatives for the evangelical groups Focus on the Family and Family Research Council — which advocate for gay conversion therapy — both spoke at the event, according to a copy of the agenda obtained by BuzzFeed News, on the topic of "Family Engagement in Faith-based Organizations." The agenda was first reported by Politico.

The National PTA, which has 4 million members nationwide, said it withdrew from the event after it learned of the two groups' participation, saying in a statement that they were "not in alignment" with the PTA's stance on protecting gay youth.

The event on Thursday, which was hosted ahead of Father's Day, included several high-level officials, including Acting Under Secretary of Education Jim Manning, and the head of elementary and secondary education.

Although the event was livestreamed, no agenda was made publicly available in advance.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did not attend the event, according to the agenda. She has said publicly that she "supports equality" and has "always" been opposed to gay conversion therapy, but under her watch, the department has come under fire for several stances that advocates say harm gay children. Along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, DeVos has rescinded protections for transgender children that were put in place by the Education and Justice departments under Barack Obama.

Members of DeVos's extended family are among the biggest donors to both Focus on the Family and FRC, having given millions of dollars over the course of the past decade.

On its website, FRC warns of the danger of allowing gays to raise children. It has falsely claimed that gay men are more likely to sexually abuse children in their care.

The Education Department did not respond to requests for comment.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.