A conservative advocacy group says President Joe Biden's administration is using lunch money to hold school districts "hostage" by requiring certain schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their preferred gender.
According to Fox News, schools that are awarded money from the Food and Nutrition Service, an agency within the Department of Agriculture, must specify in their school policies that discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is prohibited.
The announcement "essentially amounts to the Biden administration holding states and local school districts hostage with school lunch money that goes to underprivileged youth in order to pass transgender non-discrimination policies," Fight for Schools Executive Director Ian Prior said.
"What you're seeing here is really the Biden administration saying, 'you're going to do what I want, or I'm going to take your lunch money,'" he said. "For the federal government to come in and really tie school nutrition and school lunch programs to this radical ideology is terrifying, and it's appalling."
FNS administers programs such as WIC, SNAP and the National School Lunch Program, which provides free or low-cost lunches for children.
According to the USDA, the announcement is part of an executive order issued by President Biden aimed at expanding Title IX to include sexual orientation and gender identity-based discrimination.
"Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports," the order states.
The LGBTQ community has historically "faced striking economic and social disparities, such as higher rates of poverty, unemployment and nutrition insecurity," the announcement states. Transgender people are "three times" more likely to face food insufficiency than cisgender people, the announcement added.
But Prior said he isn't convinced.
"I honestly have no idea how providing food to children in schools is somehow connected to transgender policies. What we see here is the Biden administration using children as pawns in this social justice, gender ideology game that they are playing."
Prior also said the USDA's announcement is a "vast overreach of federal power."
"It is clear what they are trying to do here, which is a federal takeover of school systems throughout the country based on this radical gender ideology," he told Fox News.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.