Education , Law & Principles

Ray Carter | June 14, 2022

AG O’Connor opposes Biden transgenderism mandate

Ray Carter

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor has joined a national coalition of state attorneys general to oppose the Biden administration’s efforts to force schools to embrace transgender policies, including policies that grant male students access to girls’ restrooms.

“President Biden’s new guidance threatens to take away free and lower-cost meals from school children who rely on them for breakfast and lunch,” O’Connor said. “Biden is forcing his agenda down our throats. Picking on vulnerable children is shameful. These children need to eat. My office will continue to fight to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”

Under Biden, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued new guidance on sex discrimination for schools and programs that receive federal nutritional assistance, informing schools that the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has expanded its interpretation of the prohibition on sex discrimination found in Title IX to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

As a result, any state, local agency, or program that receives federal funds through the Food and Nutrition Act and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) must in theory comply with that directive—which includes allowing boys to use the girls’ restrooms—or the school will lose federal funding for its lunch program.

O’Connor is one of 26 state attorneys general calling on the Biden administration to withdraw the guidance, which they said is illegal, highlighting their likely legal challenges in the days ahead.

In a letter sent to Biden administration officials, the 26 attorneys general say that “by vastly expanding the concept of ‘discrimination on the basis of sex’ to include gender identity and sexual orientation, the Guidance does much more than offer direction. It imposes new—and unlawful—regulatory measures on state agencies and operators receiving federal financial assistance from the USDA. And the inevitable result is regulatory chaos that would threaten the effective provision of essential nutritional services to some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

The attorneys general say the Biden administration violated federal law in issuing such a significant rule without providing for public notice and comment, saying the USDA “has passed off as a ‘clarification’ what is actually a re-write of the law in Title IX and the Food and Nutrition Act.”

The attorneys general also noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling cited by the USDA does not deal with Title IX law and “expressly disclaimed application to ‘other federal or state laws that prohibit sex discrimination.’”

As a result, the letter states that the Biden administration’s guidance to schools “flouts the rule of law, relies on patently incorrect legal analysis that is currently under scrutiny in the federal courts, and was issued without giving the States the requisite opportunity to be heard.”

The Biden administration’s threat to deprive low-income children of school lunches if schools do not embrace transgenderism comes as many states are pushing back against efforts to intermix boys and girls in intimate settings.

Earlier this year, Oklahoma lawmakers approved legislation that prohibits Oklahoma public schools from allowing boys to use girls’ bathrooms and vice versa, after parents raised safety concerns about that practice at certain schools, including the Stillwater district.

Oklahoma lawmakers also approved the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which states that school athletic teams “designated for ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’ shall not be open to students of the male sex.”

In addition to O’Connor, the letter was signed by attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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