The Biden administration and the Florida Agriculture commissioner are threatening to pull lunch money from a Tampa, Florida, Christian school over its biblical stance on marriage and sexuality, according to a new lawsuit.
Students at Grant Park Christian Academy in Tampa receive free meals from the school’s lunch program through the federal National School Lunch Program administered by Florida Commissioner Nikki Fried, according to the lawsuit.
But Fried now is telling the school it must comply with a Biden administration interpretation of Title IX, a 1972 law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. The Biden administration interprets Title IX as also prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Based on this redefinition, Commissioner Fried is poised to block Grant Park Christian Academy’s funding for school lunches this year,” the lawsuit says. “... Commissioner Fried’s office gave the school one option when the school objected to violating its religious beliefs – ‘your school is not required to participate in the National School Lunch Program.’”
The school, according to the lawsuit, serves children from a low-income, minority community in Tampa. For many children at the school, the lunch they eat is “the best meal they eat all day – and sometimes, it’s the only meal,” the suit says.
“But Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Biden Administration are threatening Grant Park Christian Academy’s ability to feed hungry children,” the suit says.
The school’s ministry statement says the word “marriage” has only “one legitimate meaning, and that is marriage sanctioned by God, which joins one man and one woman.”
“The Biden administration is threatening to take away lunch money from low-income children simply because they attend Christian schools,” said ADF legal counsel Erica Steinmiller-Perdomo. “Grant Park Christian Academy is working to revitalize their historically underprivileged community, and offering children nutritious meals is a vital part of their service. The Biden administration is ignoring the law and forcing this wonderful school to make an untenable choice: violate its religious beliefs or stop providing lunches to children.”
The lawsuit claims the policy violates federal law and the school’s free speech and religious liberty rights under the U.S. Constitution.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.