Nine days after a Tampa Christian school filed suit against President Joe Biden and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, state and federal government officials said that they would grant the school’s request for a religious exemption to a recent mandate requiring schools to adhere to transgender-inclusive policies in order to participate in the National School Lunch Program.
“It shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit to get the government to respect religious freedom,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Erica Steinmiller-Perdomo, who represented Grant Park Christian Academy. “Grant Park Christian Academy treats every child with dignity and respect and never turns away a hungry child. 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.”
The mandate at the center of the controversy was announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service on May 5 and specified that it would redefine the word “sex” in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to the mandate, in order to receive federal funds for school lunches, Grant Park Christian Academy would have to forgo sex-specific bathrooms, sports teams and dress codes. It would also be forced to hire teachers and staff members that are not in agreement with the school’s Biblical values or statement of faith.
“If Grant Park Christian Academy complies with the new school lunch mandate, it will suffer harms to its educational mission, free speech and religious exercise,” the lawsuit explained.
Of the 56 students enrolled at Grant Park Christian Academy for the fall semester, 100% come from families below the federal poverty level and receive scholarships to attend the private school.
“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,” said Pastor Alfred Johnson, president of Faith Action Ministry Alliance, the parent organization of Grant Park Christian Academy. “While it’s unfortunate we even needed to file this lawsuit in the first place, we’re pleased to see it resolved quickly.”
Photo: Edwin Remsberg/Alamy