22 states are suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture over new guidelines that tie school lunch funding to LGBTQ+ protections. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
July 26 (UPI) -- Nearly two dozen states sued the Biden administration Tuesday over new guidelines that would cut federal funding for student lunches at schools with outdated LGBTQ+ protections.
The rule is part of the U.S. Agriculture Department's new initiative to fight discrimination against LGBTQ+ students. The rule requires all state and local agencies receiving funds from Food and Nutrition Service to investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
"We all know the Biden administration is dead-set on imposing an extreme left-wing agenda on Americans nationwide," Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who is leading the 22-state lawsuit, said in a statement. "But they've reached a new level of shamelessness with this ploy of holding up food assistance for low-income kids unless schools do the left's bidding."
The 22 states, which are mostly Republican-controlled, named in the lawsuit are Indiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.
The lawsuit, co-led by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III, specifically names the USDA as a defendant. It accuses the Biden administration of misconstruing federal law and misinterpreting the Supreme Court decision in Bostock vs. Clayton County, which protects employees against discrimination for being gay or transgender.
The National School Lunch Program feeds nearly 30 million students every day. Approximately 100,000 public, non-profit private schools and daycares receive federal funding to subsidize free or reduced-priced meals for qualifying children.
"The Biden administration's actions will inevitably result in regulatory chaos that threatens essential nutritional services to some of Indiana's most vulnerable citizens," Rokita said.
COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha fields questions from reporters during a press briefing at the White House on Friday. Photo by Rod Lamkey/UPI | License Photo