A Christian elementary school in Florida will keep getting federal lunch money, even after its refusal to change its views on sexuality to reflect the Biden administration’s proposed Title IX regulations.
Grant Park Christian Academy filed a lawsuit on July 31 against the Biden administration and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, who administers the Federal School Lunch Program in the state.
According to the lawsuit, a USDA representative told the school to include gender identity and sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policies or its application for federal lunch money would be denied.
The small Christian school refused, and on Friday a district court canceled a scheduled hearing after state officials approved the school’s application and the USDA confirmed the school’s religious exemption.
In a virtual press conference on Monday, Fried called the school’s lawsuit a “political stunt,” claiming the lunch money was never at risk. But Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. accused Fried of threatening to remove students from the National School Lunch Program over “unenforceable federal guidance.”
“As we’ve said repeatedly, Florida will not allow our students to be taken hostage by individuals attempting to implement a radical gender ideology on children,” Diaz added.
The school’s attorney suggested the government should have respected the school’s religious freedom from the beginning.
“It shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit to get the government to respect religious freedom,” said Erica Steinmiller-Perdomo, the school’s attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom.
“Grant Park Christian Academy treats every child with dignity and respect and never turns away a hungry child,” Steinmiller-Perdomo said. “Now, provided the government follows through and approves Grant Park Christian Academy’s application and confirms its exemption, this private school can continue feeding dozens of children healthy meals every day.”
Pastor Alfred Johnson, president of Faith Action Ministry Alliance, the parent organization of Grant Park Christian Academy, thanked ADF for their support.
“Our kids depend on our school’s lunch program to eat balanced, nutritious meals, and we’re breathing a sigh of relief that we can continue this vital outreach to the Grant Park community,” Johnson said.