The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced Sunday, June 5, 2022, that it will interpret the prohibition on discrimination based on sex found in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and in the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program, to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Schleicher County ISD Superintendent Robert Gibson said Monday that he was unaware of the decision and didn’t know how it would affect schools in Eldorado. “I just had my weekly Zoom meeting with the superintendents in the area a well as the director of the Service Center and nothing was mentioned about this,” Gibson said.

“It may be a big issue in larger schools, but I doubt it will be in rural schools like ours,” Gibson concluded.

A statement released by the agency said that the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA and FNS issued the interpretation to help ensure its programs are open, accessible and help promote food and nutrition security, regardless of demographics.

The action is in line with President Biden’s executive order on preventing and combatting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation and is consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County. The court held in the case that the prohibition on sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the statement said.

As part of the order, any school that receives federal funds through the school lunch program or other offerings must investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Those organizations must also update their non-discrimination policies and signage to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

USDA’s public statement said that Sunday’s notice affirmed the agency’s “efforts to dismantle barriers that historically underserved communities have faced in accessing its programs and services. This action protects the civil rights of LGBTQI+ people while complementing USDA’s ongoing efforts to advance equity and access in its nutrition programming. For more information on USDA’s equity efforts, visit usda.gov/equity.”

The statement continued by saying, “USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.”