Federal Schoolyard Bullies Try Taking Lunch Money from Christian Academy
In a coming-of-age tale as old as time, schoolyard bullies are quick to steal lunch money. Only this time, the Biden administration threatened to withhold federal lunch funding from a small Christian school for adhering to their biblical values.
Grant Park Christian Academy in Tampa, Florida, serves low-income families with children in K-8th grades. As a small school of only 56 enrolled students, they rely on federal funding for meals through the National School Lunch Program, administered by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. Now that the Biden administration is interpreting Title IX to include sexual orientation and gender identity, even the FDA’s requirements for school meal funding are affected. Since Grant Park holds to a biblical worldview on sexuality and gender, the government has threatened to pull the plug on their lunch money. Until recently, Fried’s office was poised to block their application for the grant, stating that they did not meet the stipulations.
At the end of July, with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Christian academy filed a lawsuit against President Biden and Fried. Just nine days later, Fried communicated that they were prepared to accept Grant Park’s application. In a quick turn-around victory for the small school, classes will begin for the fall semester on Wednesday with the full federal meal program for the students. “This is absolutely a win for religious liberty, and it shows that the law is on our side and that our Constitution and our federal laws protect religious freedoms,” ADF legal counsel for this case, Erica Steinmiller-Perdomo, told The Washington Stand.
“The Biden administration knows that what they’re trying to do is so egregious that they quickly backed down before we could take this case to court. And while this is great news for Grant Park Christian Academy, all the other schools that are being affected by these unlawful mandates are still left with questions,” Steinmiller-Perdomo explained. “Religious schools, for example, who did not file a lawsuit and are not getting a letter within nine days from the federal government … [they’re] wondering how they have to or whether they have to comply before the federal government grants their religious exemption that they’re entitled to under law.”
She continued, “They’re also being affected by the unlawful mandate — because the fact remains that the Biden administration is violating federal law by the processes that they’re going about in trying to radically redefine Title IX and change the meaning of ‘sex.’ And that is affecting religious and non-religious schools.”
This week on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” Steinmiller-Perdomo shared what implications this case will have on religious liberty in America. She told guest host Joseph Backholm, “ADF has taken the position that it was unlawful to require religious institutions in the first place to go out of their way to prepare these letters,” because religious free exercise should have automatic protection under federal law.
Steinmiller-Perdomo emphasized in her interview with TWS that Grant Park’s case is indeed a tremendous victory for religious liberty. “We’ve ensured that when school starts on Wednesday, these kids are going to be able to eat meals, get their breakfast, lunch and after school snack at school,” she told TWS. “But questions remain for other schools, and we need to hold the Biden administration accountable, get clarity, and put a stop to these unlawful mandates going into effect before school starts all around the country.”
Marjorie Jackson formerly served as a reporter for The Washington Stand.