'Keep those school lunches coming.'
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently recognized the right of schools to apply for a religious exemption from the Biden Administration's Title IX requirements.
According to a report by News Channel 8, the USDA has decided to grant requests for religious exemptions by religious educational institutions benefiting from the National School Lunch Program.
This means that the schoolchildren would continue to get free school lunches courtesy of the federal government.
How the USDA Decision Came About
Before the USDA approved religious exemptions from Title IX expansion, a Tampa-based Christian school sued President Joe Biden and Commissioner Nikki Fried of Florida's agriculture commission for the said policy.
The Title IX requirements relevant to the federal government's school lunch program ordered schools in the U.S. to adhere to sexual orientation and gender protections issued by the feds through a set of guidelines.
The article revealed that Fried directed the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to implement the federal government's guidelines.
With Fried's order, schools in the state had their school lunch funds under threat of being canceled if they refused to follow Title IX directives due to their religious convictions.
Because of such a predicament, the Grant Park Christian Academy in Tampa hired attorneys to represent them in their lawsuit against the Biden administration and the state agriculture commission.
The school reportedly chose Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys to file the case on their behalf.
The pressure placed on President Biden and Fried by the lawsuit paved the way for the USDA decision on the matter.
ADF's Response to the Announcement
Erica Steinmiller-Perdomo, ADF legal counsel, said they were happy with the USDA announcement.
"We are pleased to see the administration grant not only that Christian school's request, but rightly honor the religious beliefs of every other religious school in the country by allowing them to continue operating according to the tenets of their faith," Channel News 8 quoted her saying.
However, Steinmiller-Perdomo did not hide her disappointment over how the USDA arrived at its decision.
She lamented that any religious school should not have been required to file a federal lawsuit to force the government to respect the former's religious freedom.
Despite her disappointment, Steinmiller-Perdomo expressed contentment with the results of their legal efforts to challenge the federal guidelines on Title IX expansion.
She celebrated that Grant Park and all religious educational institutions across the U.S. relying on the agency's funding for school lunches would continue enjoying such privilege.
According to the ADF's statement on their website, the guidelines issued by USDA clarified that religious schools would not have to apply in writing for a religious exemption relative to Title IX expansion.
The website said USDA's guidelines on the issue explicitly stated that religious schools automatically qualify for religious exemption without requiring a written application.
Public and charter schools, however, would have to subject themselves to the federal mandate, the website clarified.