By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
In the face of resistance from more than half the states in the U.S., the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday restated its demand for public schools to adopt policies friendly to federal gender ideology.
The USDA sent an email Thursday to Wyoming and a handful of other Western states, repeating that schools receiving federal funds for school lunches will be in violation of civil rights laws unless they update their non-discrimination policies to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“State agencies and program operators who fail to take these actions will be in noncompliance with civil rights requirements,” reads USDA’s latest email, which was sent to the Wyoming Department of Education.
It also was sent to the Wyoming Department of Health, the Department of Family Services, the Women, Infants and Children’s program, and to the state’s nutrition programs consultant.
The USDA is insisting that states adopt discrimination policies to protect people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity or be in violation of civil rights law. Officials in Wyoming and some other states are concerned about the edict because of recent court rulings that indicate schools that label bathrooms only as “boys” and “girls” are guilty of discrimination.
Wyoming, which receives roughly $40 million a year in USDA school lunch and other food funding, is among the 26 states whose attorneys general wrote directly to President Joe Biden on June 14, demanding a retraction of the mandate.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Schroeder also disputed the update publicly, especially in light of recent court ruling deeming biological-sex bathroom categorizations as a form of gender identity discrimination.
Schroeder this week urged the state to fund its own school lunches, to dodge USDA oversight.
“Vulnerable children will not go unfed in Wyoming, and we will not allow boys in girls’ locker rooms,” said Schroeder in a Wednesday statement. “We categorically reject gender ideology and will not bow to the coercive will of a bully government.”
Tamara Earley, USDA regional civil rights officer, wrote in the email that, for agencies like the Wyoming Department of Education, the non-discrimination statement change is “required.”
“The statement must be used verbatim and in accordance with the timeframes provided,” she wrote.
According to the letter by the attorneys general, the deadline for the change is Aug. 3.
All schools must also order posters depicting the new discrimination guidelines.
However, Earley’s letter continues, the agency is aiming for “voluntary” compliance.
“In these instances, (USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services) aims to bring state agencies into compliance using voluntary measures, working closely and collaboratively to achieve this goal,” she said.
The letter encourages schools and other agencies to work with the FNS Civil Rights Division “as you ensure compliance with… protections against sex discrimination.”