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Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren caused a stir during a campaign event in Iowa last week when she appeared to say that she’d move ahead with her choice for education secretary only if approved by a transgender youth she had met. Her point was that she wanted to make sure transgender youths felt safe with whoever she chooses.

The comment was ripped by late-night TV host Bill Maher, which was picked up by conservative media.

At the Jan. 26 appearance in Cedar Rapids, Warren began by saying she would want a secretary who had taught in public schools. Then, talking about a young transgender person who’d asked about creating a welcoming community in schools, she said this:

”I’m going to have a secretary of education that this trans person interviews on my behalf. And if only if this person believes our secretary, or secretary of education, nominee is committed to creating a welcoming environment, a safe environment and a full educational curriculum for everyone, that person will actually be advanced to be secretary of education.”

Asked if Warren meant the youth would have to give a thumbs-up, her campaign pointed to her remarks at a CNN forum on gay and transgender issues in October, in which she was asked by Jacob, a 9-year-old transgender boy, “What will you do to make sure kids like me are safe in schools?”

Warren replied, “I’m going to find just the right kind of secretary of education. But here’s what I plan to do. I want to make sure the person I think is the right secretary of education meets you and hears your story. And then I want you to tell me if you think that’s the right person, and we’ll make the deal.”