GOP-controlled states sue over LGBT- inclusive policy to get school lunch funds

Twenty-two states sued the Biden administration over a rule that would cut federal meal funding for schools that don’t include LGBT friendly policies.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III lead the law suit, arguing that the guidelines are unlawful, in part because they are “based on a misapplication of U.S. Supreme Court precedents,” according to an Indiana AG office press release Tuesday. 

“We all know the Biden administration is dead-set on imposing an extreme left-wing agenda on Americans nationwide. 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,” Rokita said, according to the release.

The 22 states that signed on to the case include: Tennessee, Indiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), named as a defendant in the suit, announced in May that K-12 schools and other qualifying organizations would need to update their policies to include LGBT protections in order to receive funding from the Food and Nutrition Service. The rule is part of a Biden administration initiative to combat discrimination against LGBTQ+ students.

“Whether you are grocery shopping, standing in line at the school cafeteria, or picking up food from a food bank, you should be able to do so without fear of discrimination,” said Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Stacy Dean in a May 5 statement announcing the USDA’s effort.

Allegations of discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation must be investigated, and non-discrimination policies must be updated to include gender and sexual orientation protections, according to the administration.

The lawsuit accuses Biden of asking federal agencies to rewrite federal law and alleges the USDA ignored procedural requirements and misconstrued the law in issuing its directives.

A press release from Slatery’s office says the USDA misinterpreted the Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which protects employees against discrimination for being gay or transgender.

Rokita’s office contends that the initiative “will inevitably result in regulatory chaos that threatens essential nutritional services.” 

Rokita garnered national attention after he accused an Indiana doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim of failing to report the procedure.

The doctor, who records show filed the report correctly, is now suing Rokita for damages.

The Hill has reached out to the USDA for comment.