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News Analysis Jul 28, 2022 7:47 PM EST

Ohio joins 21 states sue Biden admin over plans to stop free lunches unless schools comply with 'gender identity' policies

22 attorney generals wrote a letter to President Joe Biden last month, calling on the administration to withdraw the USDA guidance.

Ohio joins 21 states sue Biden admin over plans to stop free lunches unless schools comply with 'gender identity' policies
Christina Buttons Nashville, TN

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has joined forces with 21 other attorney generals in filing a lawsuit against the Biden administration. The new federal rules set forth by the Biden administration could jeopardize the state's money for nutrition assistance if schools don’t comply with the Title IX gender identity policies.

The 22 states now suing the Biden Administration 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.

The lawsuit is centered on the US Department of Agriculture guidance issued May 5, and a federal ruling made June 14, that reinterprets the prohibition on discrimination based on sex—which is found in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and in the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008—to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and one’s subjective "gender identity."

This means that any local agency or program receiving funds from FNS, such as free and reduced lunch programs, would have to update their "non-discrimination policies and signage to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation."

22 other attorney generals wrote a letter to President Joe Biden last month, calling on the administration to withdraw the USDA guidance.

"This is classic federal policy – literally converting carrots into sticks and using them to beat a political agenda into local schools," Yost said in a news release. "When will the Biden administration learn that making law is the legislature’s role?"

"USDA is committed to administering all its programs with equity and fairness, and serving those in need with the highest dignity. A key step in advancing these principles is rooting out discrimination in any form – including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity," said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in the May 5 news release.

The USDA announced in May that "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."

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