(PRESS RELEASE) COLUMBUS, OHIO- Attorney General Dave Yost is pushing back on the Biden administration’s policy updates that compel schools receiving federal nutritional assistance and other funding subject to Title IX to adopt detrimental and onerous gender identity policies or risk losing that financial support.
Yost joined 21 other attorneys general yesterday in filing a lawsuit arguing that the changes are illegal.
The policy updates — which did not pass through Congress — could lead to the withholding of federal dollars meant to feed needy children if schools don’t adopt the administration’s preferred policies regarding gender identity, potentially including those involving access to girls’ bathrooms and girls’ athletics.
“This is classic federal policy – literally converting carrots into sticks and using them to beat a political agenda into local schools,” Yost said.
“When will the Biden administration learn that making law is the legislature’s role?”
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Tennessee, centers on USDA guidance issued May 5, 2022, and a rule promulgated on June 14, in which the department announced that it will interpret the prohibition on sex discrimination found in Title IX and the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
State and local agencies and programs that fail to investigate discrimination claims related to sexual orientation or gender identity or fail to update non-discrimination policies to include a ban on gender identity and sexual-orientation discrimination risk losing funds for both Title IX and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Ohio is steadfastly dedicated to ensuring that every needy child of every background receives nutritional assistance and is concerned that the USDA guidance will prevent that – by compelling schools to adopt unworkable policies.
In their lawsuit, the attorneys general argue that 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.
SNAP aids nearly 30 million schoolchildren a day, many of whom rely on it for breakfast, lunch or both. Roughly 100,000 public and 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 Biden sent last month, Yost and 25 other attorneys general called on the administration to withdraw the USDA guidance. The administration’s failure to do so prompted this 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.