COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost joined 21 other attorney generals in filing a lawsuit against the Biden administration.
Yost is pushing against the administration's updates to policies for schools to receive federal nutritional assistance and other funding subject to Title IX gender identity policies.
“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?”
The USDA will interpret 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 gender identity and sexual orientation.
“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.
State and local agencies that receive food and nutrition service funding must investigate discrimination claims related to sexual orientation or gender identity. Agencies receiving funding also must update their non-discrimination policies and signage to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, according to the USDA news release.
In the lawsuit, the attorney generals argued the policies are an illegal mandate because:
- They were issued without providing states and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide input, as required by the Administrative Procedures Act
- The USDA premised its guidance on an obvious misreading and misapplication of the Supreme Court’s holding in Bostock v. Clayton County, which expressly disclaimed the decision’s application to “other federal or state laws that prohibit sex discrimination”
- The guidance imposes new and unlawful regulatory measures on state agencies and operators that receive federal financial assistance from the USDA – which will inevitably result in regulatory chaos that threatens essential nutritional services to some of our most vulnerable citizens
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aids millions of schoolchildren across the country a day, many of whom rely on it for breakfast, lunch or both. In 2021, 7,882,243 kids in the U.S. participated in the lunch program. Per the National School Lunch Program data, 516,220 of those children were from Ohio.
Roughly 100,000 public schools, nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions receive federal funding to provide subsidized free or reduced-price meals for qualifying children.
In a letter to President Joe Biden sent last month, Yost and 25 other attorney generals called on the administration to withdraw the USDA guidance. The administration’s failure to do so prompted legal action.
Joining Yost in the lawsuit, which is being led by Tennessee and Indiana, are the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.
For more data from FNS, click here.