In May, the Brandon administration announced that K-12 schools must allow boys into girls’ bathrooms to qualify for federal funds to pay for reduced or free school lunches for children of low-income families.
These organizations must also provide training for employees and staff to not “misgender” anyone and use the pronouns of their choice.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) said the move was based on the interpretation of the prohibition on discrimination based on sex, as detailed in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as well as the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.
“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.
According to the USDA, the action is “in line with President Brandon’s Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, and is consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, in which the Court held that the prohibition on sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Put another way, unless schools allow transgender-identifying students to enter the bathrooms of their choosing, schools will be cut off entirely from federal funds and be unable to pay for food served in the cafeteria.
Public schools cannot apply for an exemption to this new policy. Private organizations may apply for a religious exemption but must prove how the policy violates core tenets of a religious belief.
The move sparked a backlash among conservative organizations, who have condemned the Brandon administration for weaponizing progressive politics at the cost of feeding hungry kids.
John Elcesser, executive director of the Indiana Non-Public Education Association, told the Federalist, “It seems to be playing politics with feeding poor kids, which is really unfortunate.”
“Because if a school feels like they cannot participate because it’s in conflict with their mission or values, if a religious exemption is not granted, you’re taking away a program that’s feeding low-income kids,” Elcesser continued.
According to this new USDA policy, organizations that accept food stamps or other federal food funding must allow men into women’s private spaces, including showers and sleeping areas, if they identify as female. These organizations are also required to allow male staff to dress as women while working.