The Agriculture Department (USDA) will not require religious schools to follow the new Title IX regulations, after a lawsuit condemned the Biden administration for threatening to take away lunches from children attending Christian schools.
Friday's USDA determination comes on the heels of the White House's springtime attempt to broaden the definition of the Title IX statute — which recently had its 50th anniversary — where sex-based discrimination would subsequently include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."
As such, schools and other qualifying organizations would have been tasked with updating its non-discrimination policies to receive funding from the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and its National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
However, in the wake of the Biden administration's adjusted definition of Title IX, religious institutions claimed the mandate would infringe on rights covering religious freedom and free speech.
Also, the religious educational entities argued the Biden administration was effectively holding school lunches hostage, as a means of furthering the White House's agenda.
With Friday's updated guidance, the USDA now says that religious school districts won't be obliged to submit written requests for Title IX exemptions, related to student lunches.
All charter and public schools, however, are still subject to the federal mandate.
The updated Title IX statute now prohibits sex-based discrimination, minus the exception of a "conflict between Title IX and a school's governing religious tenets," at the behest of attorneys with the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom.
Two weeks ago, the Biden administration stated it would allow an exemption to Grant Park Christian Academy — a Tampa, Florida-based private school comprising of 56 young students from low-income families (kindergarten through 8th grade).
Erica Steinmiller-Perdomo, legal counsel at the ADF, said religious schools throughout the nation would benefit from the USDA's updated ruling.
"While it shouldn't have taken a federal lawsuit, at least now, all religious schools like Grant Park Christian Academy who rely on the USDA's funding to serve nutritious meals to kids in need can continue this vital service in their communities," said Steinmiller-Perdomo.
Prior to that acknowledgment, Grant Park academy attorneys sued Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, arguing that a new federal mandate expanding the definition of "sex" to include gender identity and sexual orientation would ultimately compromise the GPCA's educational mission of helping students develop "lifelong Christian character traits."
In May, 22 attorneys general from other states also filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, characterizing the Title IX expansion as unlawful and unconstitutional, in part, before it is "based on a misapplication of U.S. Supreme Court precedents."
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Republican, deemed the lawsuit as crucial to religious freedoms, since "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."
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