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Ohio AG Dave Yost joins a federal lawsuit over LGBTQ guidance in nutrition program

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Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has joined 21 other attorneys general in a lawsuit against the Biden administration over a Department of Agriculture decision to extend antidiscrimination protections to a program that provides school meals. The suit says politics may threaten school lunch.

The lawsuit is a reaction to USDA guidance that was issued in May and codified in June, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity within the Food and Nutrition Service, which administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP dollars subsidize free and reduced-price meals for an estimated 30 million school children nationwide. States failure to investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation could jeopardize that funding.

The lawsuit argues that the the states and other stakeholders weren't given the opportunity to provide input on the expanded protections, and that those expansions are based on a bad interpretation of another court ruling. The suit predicts the expansion will create "a regulatory chaos". In a press release Tuesday, Yost - who has joined multiple lawsuits challenging federal policies -- said the policy change is "literally converting carrots into sticks and using them to beat a political agenda into local schools".

During the COVID-19 pandemic states and school districts have struggled to find ways to provide nutrition for kids. Last week the USDA announced an increase in funds to help schools provide free and reduced meals. Between the annual adjustment, extra assistance to cover supply chain issues, and funding from the new Keep Kids Fed Act, Ohio is in line to receive over $195 million in additional support.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.