Republicans Seek to Overturn Biden Transgender Rule They Say Would Cut School Lunches
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, and Rep. Scott Franklin, R-Florida, filed resolutions in their respective legislative chambers to overturn this rule.
Republican lawmakers are working to overturn a federal rule they say would punish schools that don’t follow the White House’s guidance on transgender protections by cutting funding for school meals.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated its anti-discrimination rules last year to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s transgender status. The new rule will apply to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services and provide an avenue for transgender students to file discrimination complaints with the agency.
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, and Rep. Scott Franklin, R-Florida, filed resolutions in their respective legislative chambers to overturn this rule. Per the Congressional Review Act, Congress has the authority to eliminate the new rule if both chambers pass a resolution asserting congressional disapproval.
Marshall, Franklin, and other Republican lawmakers co-sponsoring the resolutions have warned that the rule could cause schools to lose federal funding for lunch programs for impoverished students in schools that separate sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms based on biological sex, regardless of the student’s self-proclaimed transgender identity.
“In Joe Biden’s America, public schools must support Democrats’ radical transgender movement or they’re at risk of losing substantial funding,” Marshall said in a statement his office provided to CNA. “This president is relentless in forcing his misaligned values on the American people and children.”
“We must stop this policy dead in its tracks to protect access to school lunches for students across the country and send a clear message to this administration: stop weaponizing the federal government in your pursuit of indoctrinating children,” Marshall added. “The USDA has NO authority to require biological boys to be given access to girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms, nor do they have the power to allow biological boys to compete against biological girls in girls’ sports.”
In a statement provided by his office to CNA, Franklin accused President Joe Biden’s administration of using “school lunch as leverage in a political game to intimidate school systems into adopting their woke agenda.”
“We’ve worked hard in Florida to kick progressive culture wars out of the classroom and keep parents in charge,” Franklin said. “We don’t co-parent with the federal government. The USDA does not have the authority to impose LGBTQ ideology and dangerous social experiments like shared bathrooms and locker rooms on local schools. I thank my colleagues for joining me to hold the Biden administration accountable for this abuse of power.”
The USDA has consistently rejected the claim that the new rule would threaten school lunch funding based on these policies and has insisted that the rule simply ensures that students do not face discrimination based on their gender identity in their efforts to access lunch assistance.
“Some have incorrectly suggested that there is a link between this update and state laws unrelated to FNS programs, such as those dealing with gender identity and sports participation,” Stacy Dean, the deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services at the USDA, said in a September 2022 statement.
“That is not accurate — this update is specific to the federal nutrition assistance programs,” Dean added. “Others have suggested that this could result in loss of program funding. However, this action is about ensuring everyone has access to our programs, not reducing funding. When processing complaints, our goal is always to reach voluntary compliance. We strive to resolve issues by working directly with program operators and aim to ensure all program participants can continue to be fed.”
Could This Affect Catholic Schools?
Nonpublic schools that are affiliated with a particular religion, such as Catholic schools, are not subject to the USDA’s implementation of the anti-discrimination policies if the rule conflicts with the religious tenets of the school.
Catholic and other religious schools will not be required to submit a written request for an exemption but are allowed to request a formal USDA recognition if they choose to, according to guidance issued by the USDA.