July 28, 2022 Updated 2:29 P.M. ET
TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. sent a letter to Florida schools saying the Biden Administration’s Title IX guidance documents are “not binding law” and schools do not have to comply with them in order to receive federal school lunch funding.
“The Department will not stand idly by as federal agencies attempt to impose a sexual ideology on Florida schools that risk the health, safety, and welfare of Florida students,” Diaz said in his letter to schools Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) changed the interpretation of Title IX to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Biden Administration has said schools need to comply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s interpretation of Title IX in order to participate in the USDA’s National School Lunch Program.
In the letter to schools, Diaz said the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services suggested to Florida schools that they should comply with the USDA guidance.
“The purpose of this memorandum is to make you aware that the sub-regulatory ‘guidance’ documents issued by the USDOE and USDA are not binding law, do not create any new legal obligations, and should not be treated as governing law,” Diaz said.
The letter was sent Thursday to superintendents, school board members, charter schools and private schools. Diaz told school leaders not to modify their practices or procedures based on the USDA or USDOE guidance documents. That includes allowing biological males into female bathrooms.
“Specifically, for example, nothing in these guidance documents requires you to give biological males who identify as female access to female bathrooms, locker rooms, or dorms; to assign biological males who identify as female to female rooms on school field trips; or to allow biological males who identify as female to compete on female sports teams,” Diaz said.
“To the extent that you do any of these things, you jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of Florida students and risk violating Florida law.”
The letter also told schools to disregard the USDA guidance suggesting schools post “And Justice For All” posters because it may create conflict with Florida law.
“The Department will do everything in its power to protect the wellbeing of all Florida students and to vindicate the right of all parents to know what takes place in their child’s classroom,” Diaz said. “We trust that you will join us in this effort.”
In June, Governor DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw called it “appalling” that the Administration would threaten to pull federal funding for lunches.
“It is appalling that the Biden Administration is threatening to withhold food from Florida public school children in order to advance a deranged political agenda – that Floridians have rejected,” Pushaw said.
More than 20 Republican attorneys general filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Biden Administration over a rule that would cut federal meal funding for schools that don’t comply with the LGBTQ policies. Florida did not sign onto the case.
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