Last month, 22 attorneys general from GOP-led states sued the Department of Agriculture for threatening to withhold critical school lunch funding for districts that do not adhere to the new discrimination prohibitions under Title IX. The Biden administration’s reinterpretation of “sex” within Title IX, based on the Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, now includes “gender identity and sexual orientation.” The lawsuit is led by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H Slatery III and alleges that the guidelines outlined by the USDA exceed Bostock‘s intent.
On May 5, the USDA issued a directive to its Food and Nutrition Service agency stating that “in light of Bostock, FNS has evaluated the statutes it enforces and determined that discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation can constitute prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX and the Food and Nutrition Act.” Allegations of noncompliance can be investigated and potentially referred to the Department of Justice. The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service division administers funding for several programs, including the National School Lunch Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Incidentally, the Biden administration’s decision to lean heavily on children to advance its progressive agenda mirrors the Democrats’ behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in America’s youth paying the steepest price for prolonged restrictions.
The National School Lunch Program provides 20-30 million students with a daily low-cost or free lunch. It is the second-largest U.S. food and nutrition assistance program, operating in approximately 100,000 public and private schools. Households at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for a free lunch. The Biden administration’s decision to tie nutrition-related funding for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens to its dubious interpretation of Title IX represents its most shameless effort in enacting radical gender ideology.
According to USDA regulations, schools that want to keep federal lunch money must permit biological males to utilize girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms. Those that refuse to allow biological males to participate in an all-girls sports team or after-school club would also violate USDA guidelines.
Moreover, schools and districts that refrain from punishing students who use biologically correct pronouns could be in danger of a Title IX sexual harassment investigation. In a Title IX case last spring, officials charged three eighth graders in a Wisconsin school district with “mispronouning” a classmate. The Kiel Middle School students used “her” instead of “they” when referring to another student and soon found themselves the center of a “sexual harassment” case. While the charges were eventually dropped, the district defended its original position. It stated that administrators and staff were “simply carrying out the functions of their job as set out in District policy.”
Withholding Food and Nutrition Service dollars for schools that refuse to state in their rulebook that prejudice based “on gender identity and sexual orientation is prohibited” will fill millions of children with feelings of uncertainty and anxiety over the source of their next meal. Academically and socially, American children are readjusting to school life following extended closures due to COVID-19. Moreover, with rising inflation, families are now struggling to afford the necessities required to run a household. Last year, almost 8 million children relied on the National School Lunch Program. For some children, a midday school meal represents their sole source of nutrition. According to USDA statistics, almost 12 million children experience food insecurity, defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food. Studies reveal that food insecure children had “odds of fair or poor health” almost twice as great as food secure children. Mental health problems in food insecure mothers and their children were also more prevalent than in households where food was readily available.
It bears mentioning that those most affected by the USDA’s enforcement of Biden’s Title IX regulations are black and Hispanic youth, whose rates of food insecurity in 2020 were 21.7 percent and 17.2 percent, respectively. Both figures reflect a higher degree of food scarcity than the 10.5 percent national average. A piece in the New York Post also highlighted the thousands of military families, numbering close to 30 percent of “troops in the most junior enlisted ranks,” that face food insecurity. Democrats’ decision to punish underprivileged communities and Blue Star families whose schools fail to embrace a progressive gender doctrine proves the party has abandoned any semblance of pragmatic governance.
Liberal approaches to COVID-19 are today reflected in our children’s academic and emotional decay. Months later, mandating that schools champion an extreme gender pedagogy or risk losing federal lunch funding further emphasizes that the Biden administration is forfeiting the health of America’s youth to fuel its ideologically driven objectives.
Irit Tratt is a writer who resides in New York. Her work has appeared in the Jerusalem Post, the Algemeiner, JNS, and Israel Hayom.
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