The Biden Administration’s Department of Education has announced that it will be withholding federal lunch funds from public school systems that do not allow students to use restrooms and other private facilities that are designated for the other gender.
As reported by The Federalist, an Education Department spokesman said that, after the initial press release announcing the policy earlier this month, official rules outlining the new policy will be implemented in June.
The new policy would affect the allocation of funds from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which feeds nearly 30 million students every day, as well as up to 100,000 public schools, private schools, and residential care facilities. The new rules declare that any establishment that utilizes federal food funding such as food stamps must allow men who believe they are women to use women’s facilities, including restrooms, showers, locker rooms, and sleeping areas. Facilities must also force their staff to use “proper” pronouns when referring to so-called “transgender” individuals.
“It seems to be playing politics with feeding poor kids, which is really unfortunate,” said John Elcesser, executive director of the Indiana Non-Public Education Association. “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.”
The new policy will allow for religious institutions to seek exemptions from this rule, according to Senior Counsel Greg Baylor with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). However, Baylor pointed out that any schools or other facilities that do pursue such exemptions are opening themselves up to attacks from far-left organizations. The radical group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has already demanded that the Biden Administration publicly reveal every school or organization that seeks religious exemptions.
“There is a lot of harm that comes from inflicting this interpretation of Title IX on public schools and private schools that are not eligible for the exemption,” said Baylor. He also warned that the ideology being forced on schools from the top-down may reduce accountability at the local level.
“Some percentage of school districts want to be told by the federal government that they have to implement gender ideology,” Baylor pointed out. “If anyone complains, they can say, ‘We’re just doing what they told us. Go blame Joe Biden, not me.’”
Some are already claiming that the new policy is a drastic federal overreach that violates state and local sovereignty. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), said that “like many of the Biden administration’s power grabs, this imposition transgresses areas of proper state and local authority.”
“As the principal guardians of federalism, state attorneys general have the ability to combat such overreach where it injures state functions,” said Rokita.