Tenn. AG leads action against anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery said that the move is unlawful and could harm students that depend on government funding.
Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III
Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III(WVLT)
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 3:43 PM CDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III is leading action opposing anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students across the state, according to a release from Slatery’s office.

Specifically, Slatery joined 26 other attorneys general in signing a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to withdraw a recent set of guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on sex discrimination for programs that receive federal nutrition assistance. In the letter, Slatery said that the guidance imposes unlawful regulations on schools.

On May 5, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced that it would be expanding its protections on sex discrimination found in Title IX to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, basing the move on the Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County. In the case, the court ruled that discrimination protections under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act also extend to those discriminated against based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

USDA officials said the move stands in line with Biden’s executive order preventing discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity.

“We must recognize the vulnerability of the LGBTQI+ communities and provide them with an avenue to grieve any discrimination they face. We hope that by standing firm against these inequities, we will help bring about much-needed change,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Under the guidance, schools that discriminate based on sexual preference or gender identity, including those that follow recently-passed Tennessee laws limiting trans athletes’ ability to participate in school sports, would lose out on millions of dollars in federal funding.

Slatery said in the letter that the move by the FNS could harm students that depend on nutritional services provided by the USDA.

“This is yet another attempt by the executive branch and unelected regulators to do what only Congress is constitutionally authorized to do: change the law,” said General Slatery. “They intentionally misread the Bostock decision to fit their social policy preferences and exclude the people and their elected representatives from the entire process. As Attorneys General, we cannot just sit on the sidelines, and we will not.”

The letter was signed by attorneys general from the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.

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