The Biden administration has implemented a new rule that forces schools to align with far-left ideology on gender and sexuality, risking the loss of federal aid for free and reduced-price school lunches if they don’t comply.
Legal experts suggest that this is just the initial step in a series of upcoming rules linking federal education funding to progressive policies regarding gender and sexuality.
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The controversy surrounding school lunch funding emerged in May 2022, as previously reported by The People’s Voice, following an announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), responsible for federal assistance in school lunches.
The USDA declared its intention to modify its longstanding interpretation of Title IX, a law broadly addressing discrimination protections in education. The department announced an expansion of its existing ban on sex-based discrimination to now include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Center Square report: School lunch funding goes through the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of USDA.
“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,” USDA said in a statement. “Those organizations must also update their non-discrimination policies and signage to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.”
That change has major legal and taxpayer dollar implications and is an unprecedented reinterpretation of the statute, according to experts. For instance, schools receiving Pell grants, FAFSA, or students who receive federally subsidized school lunch funding will be subject to the new Title IX interpretation or risk losing that funding.
“This is a significant departure from what Title IX has always been interpreted to be,” Sarah Perry, a lawyer at the Heritage Foundation and expert on this issue, told The Center Square.
With an ever-growing number of orientations and gender identities, and despite the political divide on the issue, schools will now be forced to comply on the complex and highly politicized gender and sexuality issue.
“This is no small change,” Perry said. “This is a significant interpretation to say that sex equals sexual orientation and gender identity when Title IX, we know, dates back to 1972 and the women’s liberation movement, and at the time there was an entire campaign by LGBTQ activists to be included in anti-discrimination law indicating that they themselves did not believe that they were protected in these particular contexts.”
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