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Rutledge Demands Biden Administration: Do Not Take Schools Lunches Away

Says, ‘President Biden is the bully trying to take our children’s lunch money’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge 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 explains that recent guidance from the USDA imposes new—and unlawful—regulatory measures on state agencies and operators receiving federal financial assistance from the USDA. In May, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), announced it would drastically expand its interpretation of sex discrimination banned by 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 USDA’s Food and Nutrition Act and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) must comply with this unlawful application of the law, or face losing federal funding.

“President Biden is the bully trying to take our children’s lunch money,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Thousands of families rely on federal assistance to ensure food is on their tables and it is unlawful that President Biden is requiring these essential programs be forced to follow the woke agenda of Washington bureaucrats or face losing funding for food.”

More than 300,000 Arkansas students rely on The National School Lunch Program each day for breakfast, lunch or both. Nearly 30 million rely on the program nationwide. 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 explain that 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 nutritional services to some of the most vulnerable citizens.

Along with Attorney General Rutledge, the letter was signed by attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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