Texas sues USDA over LGBTQ protections

Here’s the story, which I’ll get to in a minute. It might be best to try to summarize this more accurately, because this is one of those technical situations where it takes a lot of qualifiers to get at what’s actually at stake. So with that in mind:

Clear enough? OK, on to the story:

Best mugshot ever

Attorney General Ken Paxton and more than 20 other attorneys general are challenging the federal Food and Nutrition Service’s new policy that recipients of food assistance funds update their nondiscrimination policies to protect LGBTQ people.

In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it was expanding its interpretation of discrimination based on sex. As a result, state agencies and programs that receive funding from the Food and Nutrition Service were ordered to “investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation” and to update their policies to specifically prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

Paxton and his counterparts claim the guidance issued by the USDA is “unlawful” because states were not consulted and did not have an opportunity to provide feedback, in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act. They also argue that the USDA is misinterpreting the Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton County, which extended sexual discrimination in the workplace to include discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

“[It] will inevitably result in regulatory chaos that threatens essential nutritional services to some of the most vulnerable citizens,” Paxton’s office said in a press release.

And as we know, no one cares more about our most vulnerable citizens than Ken Paxton. TPM adds some details.

In their suit, the Republican attorneys general argued that, in its reasoning behind the new guidance, the USDA had misapplied Bostock v. Clayton. They also argued that the government hadn’t followed procedural notice-and-comment rules for the new guidance, as outlined in a federal law known as the Administrative Procedure Act.

Or, as ACLU communications strategist Gillian Branstetter put it, “The AGs argue schools have the right to deny queer and trans kids lunch money.”

Tuesday’s suit asserted “the States do not deny benefits based on a household member’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” But it challenged the “unlawful and unnecessary new obligations and liabilities” it alleged were associated with the guidance.

The lawsuit cited existing red state laws that “at least arguably conflict” with the USDA guidance, such as rules prohibiting transgender students from participating in sports programs that align with their gender identity, rather than the gender they were assigned at birth.

The Republicans’ suit comes two weeks after 20 Republican attorneys general won a preliminary injunction in the same federal court district — the Eastern District of Tennessee — against similar guidance from the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A federal judge found the federal directive clashed with state laws regarding gender-based laws being applicable to, for example, bathrooms and sports teams.

I don’t know enough to say what the likely effect of this might be if these homophobic AGs get their way, but we can all be sure it won’t be good. If Ken Paxton can sue to force hospitals to let women die, then a few gay kids going hungry won’t bother him.

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2 Responses to Texas sues USDA over LGBTQ protections

  1. policywonqueria says:


    That policy guidance doesn’t seem to make any sense.

    First, why would denial of free school lunches (in contravention of program guidelines as far as student household income or whatever is the criterion) not be some sort of violation to begin with regardless of any gonad-based or sundry alphabet-soup classification of the student?

    And how big a problem is food denial (to income-eligible) pupils to begin with?

    Are teachers and school cafeteria workers routinely stealing the food and selling it on the black market instead of serving it to the kids, and what proportion involves gay/lesbian kids assuming that sub-class within the class can be defined and circumscribed? And even if so, i.e. even if there is nontrivial number of incidents of such kind, shouldn’t such misconduct be prosecuted as theft or at least result in termination of employment or adverse employment action of some kind?


    Second, and more troubling still, how would the sexual orientation or preference of individual students be ascertained/verified? What evidence would be discoverable and admissible, could be subpoenaed perhaps? Recordings of minors engaging in same-sex acts, or conventional hetero type to disprove homosexual status or deflect unwanted ascriptions thereof? Witness accounts? How would that not conflict with other laws, including criminal ones?

    How would that work as far as establishing a claim or bona-fide complaint: How do you establish that your kid is bi-sexual? Your say-so or your kid’s say-so or what? Are medical and behavioral assessments going to be necessary to prove or disprove a claim or allegation, given that the status of specific student (as purported target of food-denial discrimination) would be in issue?

    And what if you have no interest in the matter of ferreting out discriminatory conduct — say, an investigation into whether a straight kid got two wieners and a bun on the trip through the line but the gay got two buns but only a single wiener — but are called upon to provide evidence? Not to mention an inquest into disparities in the dispensing patterns of different-sized pickles and disturbing divergence in their curvatures.

    What about privacy? Not to mention privacy of minors being at stake here, and parents’ rights to protect it against overzealous official investigations of suspicions or allegations predicated on perceived or alleged status of a student beyond male and female (where there is largely agreement in most cases) to something that’s intimate and is not plain and visible: mind & affect stuff and intimate inter-kid behavior.

  2. Souperman says:

    In the 90’s, it was Chad from the football team who tried to steal your lunch money. In today’s Texas, it’s apparently the Attorney General.

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