A Christian school in Florida will continue to receive federal lunch funding despite rejecting the Biden administration’s expansion of Title IX to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Grant Park Christian Academy in Tampa, Florida, filed a lawsuit against the federal government and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried over the issue. The change was announced just days before a previously scheduled hearing.
“It shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit to get the government to respect religious freedom,” Erica Steinmiller-Perdomo, an Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer representing the case, said in a statement shared with the Washington Times.
“Grant Park Christian Academy treats every child with dignity and respect and never turns away a hungry child. … We will defend other public and private schools across the country who remain under the burden of this unlawful mandate that violates religious beliefs,” the statement added.
According to court documents, the case threatened to end free meals for 56 low-income students attending the school. The expanded Title IX regulations sought to withhold funding from schools for failing to comply with new requirements related to the use of school restrooms, hiring, and preferred pronoun usage.
The Title IX controversy is one of many facing the nation regarding the issue. In several conservative-led states, the changes have led to the discussion of new legislation, particularly regarding bans against biological males participating in girls’ sports.
In Oklahoma, Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed the “Save Women’s Sports Act” into law last March, which designates sports teams to be based on athletes’ biological sex for kindergarten through college.
“When it comes to sports and athletics, girls should compete against girls. Boys should compete against boys,” Stitt said. “And let’s be very clear — that’s all this bill says.”
The new law has led to recent controversy as parents must sign a biological sex affidavit for students participating in school sports.
In another ruling related to Title IX changes last month, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s Title IX guidance on gender identity and sexual orientation.
“As it currently stands, plaintiffs must choose between the threat of legal consequences — enforcement action, civil penalties, and the withholding of federal funding — or altering their state laws to ensure compliance with the guidance and avoid such adverse action,” U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley wrote in his preliminary injunction.
The legal battles follow proposed changes to Title IX that were announced on the 50th anniversary of the civil rights law in June, which bars schools that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex.
“Over the last 50 years, Title IX has paved the way for millions of girls and women to access equal opportunity in our nation’s schools and has been instrumental in combating sexual assault and sexual violence in educational settings,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
“As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this landmark law, our proposed changes will allow us to continue that progress and ensure all our nation’s students – no matter where they live, who they are, or whom they love – can learn, grow, and thrive in school,” Cardona said.