The identity politics-obsessed Biden administration appears to be acting metaphorically like a school bully by stealing kids’ lunch money.
With new regulations, the U.S Department of Agriculture is purportedly trying to withhold nutrition assistance funding from schools that are non-compliant with its gender ideology agenda.
In response, 22 red states which argue that the Biden team is overreaching have hauled the federal government into court to make sure they continue to receive the food financing for the National School Lunch Program, which reportedly feeds one or two meals to approximately 30 million kids each day.
In May, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service announced, in the name of equity, that the prohibition on sex bias in various federal laws includes discriminatory actions based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As such, any state or local government that receives federal lunch money must apparently abide by this interpretation, which is an add-on to a Biden executive order.
“As a result, state and local agencies, program operators and sponsors that receive funds from FNS must investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Those organizations must also update their non-discrimination policies and signage to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation,” the agency explained in a statement.
In line with @POTUS’ sex and gender identity anti-discrimination executive order, we are working to ensure our @USDANutrition programs are open, accessible and help promote food and nutrition security, regardless of demographics ➡️ https://t.co/6QxJ7oFEak pic.twitter.com/lQNryOxYYU
— Dept. of Agriculture (@USDA) May 5, 2022
One of the leaders for plaintiffs in the case, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, implied that the USDA’s guidance is hardly palatable and insinuated that Indiana, and by extension the other states that are parties to the lawsuit, will reject “demands that schools march lockstep with leftist transgender policies as part of qualifying to receive nutritional assistance.”
According to Rokita, “We all know the Biden administration is dead-set on imposing an extreme left-wing agenda on Americans nationwide. But they’ve reached a new level of shamelessness with this ploy of holding up food assistance for low-income kids unless schools do the left’s bidding.”
His office explained that “This new guidance has jeopardized states’ Title IX and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) school lunch funding. In the lawsuit, the attorneys general argue the USDA’s guidance is unlawful for several reasons — including that states never had opportunity for input on such a policy change and that the guidance is based on a misapplication of U.S. Supreme Court precedents.”
Biden wants Indiana schools to submit to the Left’s extremist transgender ideology — or else risk losing federal food assistance for low-income kids. Read more about the multistate lawsuit we’re leading: https://t.co/O6yJHOlF6n
— Todd Rokita (@AGToddRokita) July 26, 2022
In a letter to Joe Biden dated June 14, 2022, Tennessee AG and co-lawsuit leader Herbert Slatery, Rokita, and 23 of their counterparts in other states called upon the POTUS to withdraw the guidance.
[By] vastly expanding the concept of “discrimination on the basis of sex” to include gender identity and sexual orientation, the Guidance does much more than offer direction. It imposes new—and unlawful—regulatory measures on state agencies and operators receiving federal financial assistance from the USDA. And the inevitable result is regulatory chaos that would threaten the effective provision of essential nutritional services to some of our most vulnerable citizens.
The 17-count lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Knoxville, Tenn., federal court seeks 10 forms of relief including “A declaratory judgment affirming that the [USDA] may neither penalize nor withdraw federal funding from Plaintiffs and Title IX and Food and Nutrition Act recipients located in the Plaintiff States that continue to separate students by biological sex in appropriate circumstances.”
About the lawsuit, AG Slatery contended that “This case is, yet again, about a federal agency trying to change law, which is Congress’ exclusive prerogative. The USDA simply does not have that authority. We have successfully challenged the Biden Administration’s other attempts to rewrite law and we will challenge this as well.”
According to Rokita’s office, “Approximately 100,000 public and non-profit private schools and residential childcare institutions receive federal funding to provide subsidized free or reduced-price meals for qualifying children.”
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