OKLAHOMA CITY - Attorney General John O’Connor has joined a coalition of 26 state attorneys general calling on President Joe Biden to withdraw the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new guidance on sex discrimination for schools and programs that receive federal nutritional assistance. The coalition says recent guidance from the USDA imposes new—and unlawful—regulatory measures on state agencies and operators receiving federal financial assistance from the USDA.
On May 5th, 2022, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), announced it would expand its interpretation of the prohibition on sex discrimination found in Title IX to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
As a result, any state, local agency, or program that receives federal funds through The Food and Nutrition Act and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) -administered by the USDA- must in theory comply with this unlawful application of Bostock v. Clayton County and Title IX, or lose federal funding.
"President Biden’s new guidance threatens to take away free and lower-cost meals from school children who rely on them for breakfast and lunch,” said Attorney General O’Connor. “Biden is forcing his agenda down our throats. Picking on vulnerable children is shameful. These children need to eat. My office will continue to fight to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”
The National School Lunch Program services nearly 30 million school children each day, many who rely on it for breakfast, lunch, or both. Approximately 100,000 public and non-profit private schools and residential childcare institutions receive federal funding to provide subsidized free or reduced-price meals for qualifying children.
In the letter, the attorneys general say expanding the concept of “discrimination on the basis of sex” to include gender identity and sexual orientation does far more than offer direction:
- The Guidance is unlawful because it was issued without providing the States and other stakeholders the opportunity for input as required by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
- The Guidance is unlawful because the USDA premised it on an obvious misreading and misapplication of the Supreme Court’s holding in Bostock v. Clayton County. Bostock expressly disclaimed application to “other federal or state laws that prohibit sex discrimination”—like Title IX and the Food and Nutrition Act—and expressly did not “prejudge any such questions."
- The Guidance imposes new- and unlawful- regulatory measures on state agencies and operators receiving federal financial assistance from the USDA. This will inevitably result in regulatory chaos that threatens essential meals to some of the most vulnerable citizens.
The letter was also signed by attorneys general from the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.