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Utah Sues Feds for Threatening to Withhold Nutritional Assistance for Schools that Don’t Follow ‘Gender Identity’/ ‘Sexual Orientation’ Policy

July 26, 2022

Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined 22 attorneys general in a lawsuit against the Biden Administration’s new guidance on sex discrimination for schools and programs that receive federal nutritional assistance. The lawsuit names the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was filed in the Eastern District of Tennessee.

On May 5, 2022, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services issued guidance to Utah and other states announcing that discrimination on the basis of sex in Title IX and the Food and Nutrition Act includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Biden administration is unlawfully expanding Title IX to include discrimination based on sexual orientation or sexual identity in an effort to force policy in Utah schools. The federal government should not hold food for school children hostage to force policy change. The administration is unlawfully trying to rewrite the law and is placing essential nutritional services for Utah’s children at risk.

In the lawsuit, the attorneys general argue the USDA’s guidance is unlawful because:

  • It was issued without providing the State and other stakeholders the opportunity for input as required by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
  • The USDA premised its guidance on an obvious misreading and misapplication of the Supreme Court’s holding in Bostock v. Clayton County.
  • 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.

The National School Lunch Program services nearly 30 million school children each day, many of whom 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.

On June 14th, a coalition of 26 state attorneys general called on President Biden to withdraw the USDA’s guidance. Read the letter here.

Joining the lawsuit are the attorneys general of the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

To read the complaint, click here. To read the complaint with the exhibits included, click here.