The U.S. Department of Agriculture has backtracked – a bit – on a new policy that forces schools to have policies in place that privilege students based on “sexual orientation and gender identity” – or lose out on funds for student lunches.
The government agency has announced that religious schools do not have to comply, due to Title IX religious exemptions. That’s good news.
The bad news? Public schools still must redefine “sex” for all their students and staff – unless a lawsuit from 22 state attorneys general is successful in shutting down this government overreach.
In May 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it was redefining sex discrimination in Title IX to include the two unscientific, ill-defined terms which refer to a person’s sexual behaviors or subjective identity or feelings.
The USDA was following a White House mandate that all federal agencies redefine the word “sex” in their non-discrimination policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
This put Christian schools in a difficult position, as doing so would violate basic Christian beliefs about identity, marriage and sexuality. Religious schools would have to adopt this language, affecting school restrooms, sports, hiring and firing policies, dress codes, and language – or reject government funds for school breakfasts and lunches.
In response, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of Grant Park Christian Academy, in Tampa, Florida. The complaint said the school would “suffer harms to its educational mission, free speech, and religious exercise.”
The lawsuit stated:
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Biden Administration are punishing low-income children and threatening to take away their school lunches – simply because they attend Christian schools. …
For many children, the food they get at Grant Park Christian Academy is the best meal they eat all day – and sometimes, it’s the only meal.
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly had strong words for the mandate:
Withholding food from children in order to force compliance is considered a form of child abuse, and yet that’s basically what the Biden administration is doing through its draconian new guidelines for schools.
When Grant Park reached out to the commissioner, they were told, “[Y]our school is not required to participate in the National School Lunch Program.”
ADF attorneys argued that the government edict was illegal and violated the school’s First Amendment freedoms of speech, association and religion:
As other courts have held, government officials act unlawfully when they seek to rewrite Title IX through an arbitrary rule without public participation and oversight – and with no thought to the chaos and confusion that it would sow for religious schools committed to feeding hungry schoolchildren. …
The speech of Grant Park Christian Academy, as well as the speech of its children, teachers, and employees, is protected under the First Amendment.
In response, the government agency put out new guidance saying religious schools were exempt under “Title IX’s Religious Exemptions.”
But the rule still applies to public schools, affecting almost 50 million students. This should greatly concern all believers, as the next generation is indoctrinated into a false ideology that is antithetical to Christianity.
Even if parents home-school their children or send them to Christian schools, they will still be surrounded by friends who believe in an unbiblical teaching about identity, sexuality and relationships.
Thankfully, a group of 22 states, through their attorneys general, have sued the federal government over the rules. The lawsuit accused the USDA of trying to change a federal law when it does not have the authority to do so.
The case is Tennessee v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the states involved are Tennessee, Indiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
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Photo from Twitter.