Governors push back against Biden’s scheme to pull school lunch funding for districts rejecting transgender agenda

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WASHINGTON, DC — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are challenging President Joe Biden’s attempts to force a transgender agenda at all schools, from elementary schools to colleges.

President Biden is attempting to force his transgender agenda upon schools in conservative states by weaponizing food.

Specifically, the president is trying to grant lunch awards only to schools that allow transgender students to use male and female bathrooms on their campuses.

On Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden had signed an Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, which permits transgender students to use male or female bathrooms and play sports with either sex.

Biden’s executive order drew on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which altered the meaning of “sex” in Title VII to include sexual orientation and gender identity, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

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Then in May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service made a startling announcement.

The Washington Free Beacon reported:

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service announced in May it will prevent low-income students from participating in its National School Lunch Program if their public school does not adopt the administration’s interpretation of Title IX, which holds that the federal civil rights law’s provision against discrimination based on sex includes designations of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Jonathan Butcher, a fellow in education at the Heritage Foundation, said the Biden administration’s interpretation of Title IX would also prohibit schools from informing parents of their child’s decision to assume a different gender:

“It is a parent’s right to know what their children are doing or what sort of health services or even counseling services are being provided to their children in a school setting.”

Now, two governors are fighting back.

On June 2, Gov. Noem announced she was planning to sue the Biden administration over changes to the federal school lunch program.

In a tweet, Noem wrote:

“Joe Biden has threatened to take away children’s school lunch money to pursue his radical agenda.

“He’s targeting states like ours that make it clear biological men do NOT belong in girls’ bathrooms and sports.

“If you act on this, Joe, we’ll see you in court and we will win.”

The Epoch Times reported:

“South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced on June 2 that, to protect fairness in women’s sports, she intends to sue the Biden administration over an overhaul of the federal school lunch program to be more in line with Title IX.

“The Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Biden administration announced on May 5 that all state and local agencies that receive federal funding for meals, more specifically including schools, must not discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

“In other words, schools that receive funding through the federal school lunch program could lose the funding if they discriminate against those identifying as a different gender or sexual orientation, such as not allowing biological males who identify as females to use women’s restrooms.

“The basis of the changes in the federal school lunch program originated from President Biden’s Executive Order combating discrimination of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Gov. DeSantis’ office also criticized the Biden administration for threatening to pull federal school lunch funding if schools do not comply with the president’s transgender ideology.

Florida’s Voice News reported:

“‘It is appalling that the Biden Administration is threatening to withhold food from Florida public school children in order to advance a deranged political agenda – that Floridians have rejected,’ said Governor DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw.

“The Biden Administration will reportedly force schools to allow boys to use girls’ restrooms in order to receive assistance under the new rule.

“‘We will not allow Biden to force Floridians to choose between children’s food and parents rights,’ Pushaw said. ‘That is the kind of “decision” that a totalitarian regime would force upon its citizenry.’”

Critics of the administration’s decision said it could unnecessarily harm disadvantaged students.

Christian K-12 schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program can apply for a religious exemption, but public and nonreligious private schools must follow the new rules or lose their funding.

Greg Baylor, a senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, told the Washington Free Beacon:

“All people should be treated with dignity and respect, but it’s wrong for the federal government to take away free meals from economically disadvantaged students if their schools do not embrace radical gender ideology.”

Baylor also said that he believes most public schools would end up complying because they rely heavily on federal funding.

Baylor also encouraged parents to submit their concerns to the Department of Education, which is expected to issue new Title IX protections soon that could permit transgender individuals to access sex-segregated spaces.

Colleges, universities and their students would not be immune to losing funding.

The Washington Free Beacon reported:

“The Biden administration will also force schools that receive funds from FNS [Food and Nutrition Service] to investigate accusations of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.

“Students at colleges and universities who reject the Biden administration’s definition of sex could also lose their Federal Student Aid.

“‘Any discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in FNS programs will be handled as sex discrimination,’ a USDA spokeswoman told the Free Beacon.”

Parents and parental advocacy groups are also fighting back.

Parents Defending Education director of outreach Erika Sanzi called the Title IX decision “preposterous” and said:

“The notion that schools will not receive funding for student meals if they refuse to let biological males use the girls’ bathroom and compete against girls in athletics is so preposterous, it sounds like parody.”

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