Search form

Group 4 Created with Sketch.
Back to Global Spotlight

Bethany Kozma

Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); U.S. Delegation Member, United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

Bethany Kozma is a former George W. Bush administration staffer and an anti-transgender ideologue. She waged a fear-mongering campaign against her local school board, spreading the unsubstantiated claim that allowing students to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity would put children at risk from sexual predators. In addition to her anti-LGBTQ activism, Kozma is staunchly anti-abortion

 

HOW THEIR ROLE AFFECTS ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE

Bethany Kozma joined USAID in June 2017 as Senior Advisor for Women’s Empowerment, and was promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff of the agency in March 2020. She was a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in 2018 and 2019. She has worked directly with hate groups including C-FAM, and uses her platform to espouse her anti-transgender, anti-abortion views.

PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT OF NOTE

The Daily Signal (a publication of the Heritage Foundation), contributor since 2016

Positions under the administration of President George W. Bush: 

  • White House
  • Department of Homeland Security 

TIES TO OTHER ANTI-CHOICE EXTREMISTS

Valerie Huber: Valerie Huber is senior policy advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Global Affairs. Huber and Kozma were both part of the U.S. delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women convening at the United Nations in both 2018 and 2019. They have worked together on UN resolutions to change references from “modern contraceptives” to “family planning” to allow for policies relating to abstinence-only education. Huber has promoted abstinence-only programs for a long time. She worked to limit comprehensive sex education at the Ohio state level in her decade with Ascend (formerly the National Abstinence Education Association), and at the federal and international levels with HHS. 

Austin Ruse: Austin Ruse is the president of C-FAM, an anti-LGBTQ, Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group. Ruse and Kozma work closely together in the international sphere, with C-FAM providing Kozma with talking points at United Nations events. Ruse has heaped praise on Kozma, stating, “Bethany Kozma is a lovely, sweet woman who just happens to believe that girls with penises just ought not to be showering next to girls without penises.” Ruse has a history of making bigoted remarks: he wrote there is “no evidence that transgenderism is a real thing,” and that children who are “raised by same-sex couples [are] twice as likely to be depressed, fat adults.” 

HIGHLIGHTS

Kozma Gave A Fear-Mongering Testimony At Her Local School Board That Non-Discrimination Policies Enable Sexual Predators 

In 2016, Kozma Declared That The School District’s Trans-Friendly Bathroom Policy Would “Embolden” And “Enable” Sexual Predators. “Imagine how predators will be emboldened and enabled, endangering other young girls if they are allowed to enter girls facilities and protected under your current policy.” [Fairfax County Public Schools Board Meeting, YouTube, 10/6/16, begins at 17:10]

THE WHOLE STORY

As A Commission On The Status Of Women U.S. Delegation Member, Kozma Has Led Efforts To Remove References To Gender, Reproductive Rights From United Nations Resolutions

While Representing The United States At The 2018 CSW, Kozma Called The U.S. “A Pro-Life Country” And Rolled Back Protections For Access To Birth Control

Kozma Worked To Advance The Trump Administration’s Anti-Abortion Objectives At The Annual CSW At The UN In 2018. “An official appointed by President Donald Trump said during a closed-door United Nations meeting that the “US is a pro-life country”, despite the fact both the law and public opinion support a woman’s right to access legal and safe abortion. Bethany Kozma, a senior adviser in the office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment for US Agency for International Development (USAID), made the statement while countries negotiated the final document of the ongoing, annual women’s rights conference. Two diplomats at the UN, who asked not to be named, and charities serving as UN observers, were able to confirm the comment to The Independent and Ms Kozma’s continued presence during negotiations the next day.” [The Independent, 3/22/18]

Kozma Called For The Deletion Of “Modern Contraceptives” From The 2018 CSW Outcome Document. “As part of the negotiations on the roughly 70-page outcome document, issued every year at the end of the conference, Ms Kozma and the US delegation also called for deleting any mention of the phrase ‘modern contraceptives’ and replacing it with the phrase ‘family planning’ in order to push policies like abstinence-only sexual education.” [The Independent, 3/22/18

At The 2019 CSW, Kozma Led Efforts Attempting To Remove The Word “Gender” From The Conference’s Outcome Document

Kozma Was A Part Of The U.S. Delegation To The CSW Again In 2019. “On March 12, that plan changed, and the US mission to the UN announced that [Cherith] Norman Chalet was in charge of the delegation. Courtney Nemroff, acting Representative of the US to the Economic and Social Council of the UN, is deputy head. Besides Kozma of Usaid, other members of the US delegation include, per information provided by a nongovernmental organization and not confirmed by the US mission: Valerie Huber, senior adviser in the office of Global Affairs and US Health and Human Services; Pam Pryor, senior political adviser in the Office of Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, State Department; Michelle Bekkering from Usaid; Kathy Wills Wright, deputy assistant secretary at the State Department; and Katie Sullivan, acting director of the US Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women.” [PassBlue, 3/7/19]

In A Threat To International Agreements On Women’s Rights, U.S. Officials Tried To Remove The Word “Gender” From UN Documents At The 2019 CSW. “US officials in New York are attempting to water down language and remove the word “gender” from documents being negotiated at the UN, in what is being seen as a threat to international agreements on women’s rights. In negotiations at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which resume at UN headquarters this week, the US wants to replace ‘gender’ in the forum’s outcome document with references only to women and girls.” [The Guardian, 3/18/19]

  • The Move Follows Similar Attempts By The US Last Year To Change Language In Documents Before The UN Human Rights Council.” [The Guardian, 3/18/19]
  • “The Guardian Understands The US Also Wants References To Migration And Climate Change Completely Removed From The CSW Document.” [The Guardian, 3/18/19]

At The 2019 CSW, The United States Delegation Refused To Reaffirm Its Commitment To The Landmark Beijing Agreement, The “Blueprint For Global Women’s Rights”

Kozma And Other Delegation Members Refused To Reaffirm The Agreement Used By Activists Globally To Hold Governments Accountable With Regard To Women’s Rights. “In draft documents, seen by the Guardian, the US is taking a step further at CSW by refusing to reaffirm the country’s commitment to the landmark Beijing declaration and platform for action, agreed at the fourth world conference of women held in 1995. The Beijing agreement is regarded as the blueprint for global women’s rights. Although it is not legally binding, the document is used widely by activists to hold their governments to account on policy related to women.” [The Guardian, 3/18/19]

Kozma’s Delegation To The CSW Has Increasingly Aligned Itself With Countries With Poor Human Rights Records, Alienated Others With Its Aggressive “Anti-Gender, Anti-Woman Position”

Under Leadership Of Extremists Like Kozma, The US Delegation Has Aligned Themselves More And More With Countries Like Iran, Saudi Arabia, And Russia — Which “Consistently Seek To Undermine Agreements” Related To Women’s And Reproductive Rights At The UN. “Under the Trump administration, US negotiators have found themselves more aligned with countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia than European nations. These countries consistently seek to undermine agreements on women’s rights at the UN, specifically around reproductive health and rights. This year’s US delegation includes Valerie Huber, a proponent of abstinence-only sex education and now a senior policy advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services, and Bethany Kozma, an anti-choice activist and senior advisor for women’s empowerment at the US Agency for International Development.” [The Guardian, 3/18/19]

Advocates Including The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) Have Been Dismayed By The U.S. Delegation’s Entry To CSW Negotiations, Which Have Been “Very Aggressive And… Advances An Anti-Gender, Anti-Woman Position From The Very Start.” Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy at the International Women’s Health Coalition, said: “They [the US] are coming into the negotiations in a way that is very aggressive and that advances an anti-gender, anti-woman position from the very start. [The Guardian, 3/18/19]

  • IWHC: The US Delegation Is Trying To Downplay The Political Importance Of Agreements Like Beijing And Weaken Commitments Overall. “One of the first things they have tried to do is block reaffirmation of Beijing and subsequent documents … trying to downplay the political importance of this document as setting out the vision for women’s human rights. They are trying to weaken commitments to that overall.” [The Guardian, 3/18/19]

Kozma Is An Anti-LGBTQ Activist Who Started A Campaign To Discriminate Against Transgender People Supported By Noted Hate Groups

Last year, she told the Loudoun County Public Schools board that a non-discrimination policy that respects gender identity "tells young girls who are students that you don't care how they feel and you will be discriminating against your own students, potentially opening them up to sexual harassment… sexual assault or rape." [Newsweek, 3/22/18]

Similarly, in 2016 she testified to her local Fairfax County Public Schools board, telling the audience: "Imagine how predators will be emboldened and enabled, endangering other young girls if they are allowed to enter girls facilities and protected under your current policy." [Newsweek, 3/22/18]

Kozma Launched A 2016 Campaign Opposing The Obama Administration’s Guidance For Inclusive Policies At Public Schools … 

Kozma’s Anti-Trans Campaign Protested Obama-Era Guidance That Was Reversed By The Trump Administration. “In 2016, [Kozma] launched a campaign to oppose the Obama administration's guidance to public schools that said transgender students have the right to use facilities matching their gender identity; the guidance was withdrawn by the Trump administration in February.” [Buzzfeed News, 6/29/20]

…Kozma’s Anti-Trans Campaign Was Supported By Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups Including The Family Research Council

Kozma’s Anti-Trans Campaign Was Reportedly Supported By The Family Research Council, The Family Policy Alliance, And American Values. “Conservative, pro-life organizations including The Family Policy Alliance, Family Research Council, and American Values supported Kozma's anti-trans campaign, The Daily Signal has stated.” [Newsweek, 3/22/18]

  • FRC Is A Southern Poverty Law Center-Recognized Hate Group For Its Extreme Anti-LGBTQ Ideology. “The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people as the organization battles against same-sex marriage, hate crime laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.” [SPLCenter.org, Accessed 11/19/19]
  • FRC President Tony Perkins Said Pedophilia Is A “Homosexual Problem” And That “Homosexual Activists” Are “Part Of A Concerted Effort” To “Recruit…Kids Into The ‘Gay Lifestyle.’” “According to Perkins, pedophilia ‘is a homosexual problem’ that seeks to ‘recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of the new sexual order.’ Gay men are ‘more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than are heterosexual men”; in fact, ‘homosexuals have entered the [Boy] Scouts in the past for predatory purposes.’ What’s worse, ‘homosexual activists”—those “intolerant,” ‘hateful,’ ‘vile’ and ‘spiteful’ predators—aren’t just content to engage in pedophilia: They’re also ‘part of a concerted effort’ to ‘recruit … kids’ into the gay ‘lifestyle.’” [Slate, 9/25/13]

Kozma Has Written Numerous Anti-Transgender Articles For The Daily Signal, A Publication Of The Right-Wing Think Tank, The Heritage Foundation

Kozma Is A Contributor To The Daily Signal, Where She Writes About Her Vehement Opposition To Trans Rights. “Ms Kozma, who failed to respond to requests for comment, previously held positions in the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, during the administration of president George W Bush. She left government service to focus on raising her children before accepting an appointment in Mr Trump’s administration. In between, Ms Kozma became known for her writing at right-wing sites like the Daily Signal, a publication of the Heritage Foundation think tank, and espousing anti-transgender views. Her most high-profile campaign was launched in 2016 against the Obama administration’s guidance that transgender students should be allowed to use the bathroom of their choosing in public schools. She wrote at the time that “a boy claiming gender confusion must now be allowed in the same shower, bathroom, or locker room with my daughter under the president’s transgender policies... When I learned that predators could abuse these new policies to hurt children in school lockers, shelters, pool showers, or other vulnerable public places like remote bathrooms in national parks, I realised I had to do something.” [The Independent, 3/22/2018]

Kozma Wrote A 2016 Daily Signal Piece Entitled “I’m A Mom. Here’s What I’m Doing To Fight Obama’s Transgender Agenda.” That Made Upsetting, Unsubstantiated Claims Correlating Transgender Rights To Child Abuse, Sexual Assault

Kozma Wrote That After Years Of Being A Stay-At-Home Mom, She “Jumped Back Into The World Of Politics and Policy” Far Earlier Than Expected Because Of Obama-Era Guidance Guaranteeing Trans Rights In Schools. “Because I’m passionate about our country, I dedicated years of my life to government service. Later, that same passion led me to focus on raising my three young children to become the finest citizens they can be, becoming a stay-at-home mom. Nevertheless, I have jumped back into the world of politics and policy far earlier than I expected to because President Barack Obama’s school bathroom mandate is endangering the safety, security, and privacy of my children and yours. I cannot remain silent.” [The Daily Signal, Bethany Kozma, 7/10/16]

In Her Op-Ed, Kozma Falsely Claimed That The Obama Policy Poses Dangers To Women And Girls. “Like many Americans, I was shocked to learn the Obama administration had sent a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to our nation’s schools threatening them with loss of federal funds unless they adopt radical new gender identity policies. The letter twists Title IX—a law banning sex discrimination in education—and opens the door to a myriad of real dangers to women and girls Title IX was meant to help.” [The Daily Signal, Bethany Kozma, 7/10/16]

Kozma Referred To Transgender Identity As “Gender Confusion.” “To put it simply, a boy claiming gender confusion must now be allowed in the same shower, bathroom, or locker room with my daughter under the president’s transgender policies.” [The Daily Signal, Bethany Kozma, 7/10/16]

Kozma Made The Unsubstantiated Claim That A Non-Discrimination Policy Will Enable Predators To Prey On Children. “When I learned that predators could abuse these new policies to hurt children in school lockers, shelters, pool showers, or other vulnerable public places like remote bathrooms in national parks, I realized I had to do something.” [The Daily Signal, Bethany Kozma, 7/10/16]

Kozma Made The Upsetting, Unproven Argument That Inclusive Policies Lead To The Re-traumatization Of Sexual Assault Survivors And “More Victims Of Sexual Violence”. “I instinctively knew that I needed to speak up to protect those who cannot speak for themselves: our children. As I learned more about the issue, I realized that I also needed to speak up for victims of sexual assault who would be re-traumatized by having biological males undress in front of them, women who may now feel themselves powerless to do anything about it, due to legal concerns and fear of being labeled a bigot. Not wanting to see any policy that would lead to more victims of sexual violence and trauma, I started calling my federal, state, and local representatives to see where they stood on the issue and to urge them to fight against Obama’s edict.” [The Daily Signal, Bethany Kozma, 7/10/16]

Kozma Wrote About Her Anti-Trans Campaign, “United We Stand,” Which She Says Combats The “Radical Agenda Of Subjective ‘Gender-Fluidity’.” “Through conversations with friends and family, the ‘United We Stand’ campaign was born. Our simple effort to educate parents exploded into a national campaign to tell the White House and Obama ‘No.’ Our message was that this radical agenda of subjective ‘gender fluidity’ and unrestricted shower and bathroom access actually endangers all.” [The Daily Signal, Bethany Kozma, 7/10/16]

Kozma Wrote A February 2017 Daily Signal Piece, “Trump Has Reversed the Transgender Bathroom Mandate. Here’s How Moms Like Me Pushed the Fight.”

In Her February 2017 Op-Ed, Kozma Lauded The Trump Administration For Rescinding Obama-Era Trans-Rights Guidance For Schools. “As a woman and a mother, I am thrilled that the Trump administration has rescinded President Barack Obama’s unlawful transgender school policy regarding the use of showers, locker rooms, dorms, and bathrooms in public schools and universities. President Donald Trump has returned the policymaking power back to parents and state and local officials.” [The Daily Signal, Bethany Kozma, 2/27/17]

Kozma Wrote Yet Another Anti-Trans Daily Signal Piece In March 2017 Headlined, “My Local School Board May Begin Silencing Parents Over Transgender Agenda”

In Her March 2017 Daily Signal Op-Ed, Kozma Wrote That She “Had To Withdraw” Her Daughter From Her Fairfax County, Virginia Public Elementary School Because She Was Concerned For Her Safety Due To Their Trans Rights Bathroom Policies. “I actually had to withdraw my daughter from her Fairfax County public elementary school over concerns for her personal safety and privacy. Her former school is currently allowing a biological boy to use the girls’ facilities, without any parental notification.” [The Daily Signal, Bethany Kozma, 3/10/17]

Noting Her Track Record As An Anti-Trans Activist, Human Rights Groups Have Staunchly Opposed Kozma’s Position In The U.S. Delegation To The CSW 

OutRight Action International: Kozma’s Hateful Activism Targeting Trans People, Her Collaboration With Hate Groups, And Her Use Of Dangerous Rhetoric Surrounding Abortion Should Disqualify Her From This Position At The CSW

The OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern Stated, “Bethany Kozma's Track Record As An Anti-Trans Activist Should Disqualify Her From Representing The United States At The Largest Women's Rights And Gender Justice Meeting.” “Responding to Kozma's attendance of CSW, Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, called on the government to remove Kozma from its delegation ‘immediately.’ She said in a statement: ‘Bethany Kozma's track record as an anti-trans activist should disqualify her from representing the United States at the largest women's rights and gender justice meeting. She is known for her hateful rhetoric against transgender people, specifically trans children, and has been at the forefront in undermining their rights. Having worked with known hate groups, such as Family Research Council, it is clear that Kozma will push for restrictive and discriminatory language at the CSW negotiations. Kozma is misrepresenting the status of abortions in this country, and is pushing a false and dangerous narrative.” [Newsweek, 3/22/18]

  • Stern Called Kozma’s Appointment To The U.S. Delegation An Embarrassment. "It is an embarrassment that an anti-trans activist is on the delegation, not to mention someone who is misrepresenting US law in negotiations. The US must uphold its values of non-discrimination at all times, and prevent Kozma from co-opting this space to impose her hateful agenda in the negotiation room." [Newsweek, 3/22/18]

C-FAM Is Among The Anti-Abortion Extremist Groups That Have Outsized Influence Over The State Department, US Mission To The UN By Working Directly With Officials Including Kozma

C-FAM Has Leveraged Connections Within The Trump Administration To Influence Far-Right, Anti-Abortion Agenda Within US Delegation To The UN. “C-Fam has emerged from the extreme right fringe on abortion, sexual orientation and gender identity to become a powerful player behind the scenes at the UN. With a modest budget and a six-strong staff led by the president Austin Ruse, it has leveraged connections inside the Trump administration to enforce a rigid orthodoxy on social issues, and helped build a new US coalition with mostly autocratic regimes that share a similar outlook. And that coalition has already significantly shifted the terms of the UN debate on women’s and LGBT rights.” [The Guardian, 5/16/19]

Nikki Haley’s Staffers Were Extremely Close With C-FAM. “C-Fam’s channel into the state department and into the US mission to the UN under the then ambassador Nikki Haley, had made itself increasingly apparent in the run up to the 2018 Commission on the Status of Women at the UN’s New York headquarters. ‘Nikki Haley’s staffers were in very close touch with C-Fam. C-Fam were continually phoning and emailing Nikki Haley’s staff talking about the language, giving line-by-line instructions,’ Phipps said. ‘It was highly inappropriate for a non-government organisation to be giving line-by-line instructions. C-Fam would be sending emails which would be regurgitated in US cables.’” [The Guardian, 5/16/19]

Austin Ruse’s Hate Group, C-FAM, Has Cultivated Personal Ties to Kozma At The United Nations

C-FAM Has Distributed Anti-Abortion Talking Points To Kozma At The UN. “‘When we got into negotiations, my instructions from Washington were verbatim taken from C-Fam, and Kozma had the same talking points,’ said [Laurie Shestack Phipps, a former diplomat at the US mission to the UN who has since resigned due to Trump’s State Department’s extreme reproductive rights stances] Phipps, now an adjunct professor of global issues at Fairleigh Dickinson University. ‘Then the Arab group spoke … and they read their statement and it was exactly the same. I turned to Bethany and said: ‘How did they get your talking points?’ I was winding her up. She looked pretty chagrined. We both knew they were from C-Fam.’” [The Guardian, 5/16/19]

Kozma Attended C-FAM “Listening Sessions” Without Telling The Rest Of The U.S. Delegation In 2018. “During the 2018 women’s conference, Kozma and other Trump political appointees attended a ‘listening session’ at C-Fam offices without informing the rest of the US delegation, in a breach of normal practice.” [The Guardian, 5/16/19]

Austin Ruse Of C-FAM Has Heaped Praise On Kozma And Her Anti-Transgender Beliefs. “‘Bethany Kozma is a lovely, sweet woman who just happens to believe that girls with penises just ought not to be showering next to girls without penises,’ [Ruse] added.” [Buzzfeed News, 6/29/17]

  • C-FAM Is A Designated Hate Group That Opposes The Existence Of Sexual Or Gender Diversity Existing Beyond Biblical Heteronormative Binary. “Thus, the mere mention of the existence of sexual or gender diversity cuts against the dogma of conservative Christians like those running C-FAM. Remember, this isn’t some kind of international campaign against homophobia: This is about whether to investigate SOGI-based violence at all. But if SOGI-based violence exists, then SO and GI might be a thing—and that is the ‘catastrophe.’ C-FAM’s pitch letter went further, though, saying that ‘It has been the long-term project of the sexual revolutionaries to undermine the teachings of the church and to impose a new sexual orthodoxy on the whole world. The new sexual orthodoxy is nothing more than a new religion celebrating a new god, an angry god, a jealous god.’” [The Daily Beast, 4/13/17]
  • C-FAM President Austin Ruse Wrote An Article Denying That Same-Sex Attraction Is Inborn, Claiming “homosexuality’s origin is psychological.” “James Martin SJ says God made them same-sex attracted, that ‘God does not make junk.’ Martin has no basis upon which to claim that same-sex attraction is inborn. Science does not show this and never has. In fact, the clear teaching of the Church, in the universal Catechism, is that homosexuality’s origin is psychological. Sometimes a psychological compulsion may feel inborn but that does not make it so.” [Crisis Magazine, 9/15/17]

Related Media

See More

Connections