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South Dakota governor blasts Biden, Vilsack tying school lunch funding to transgender, LGBT policy

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South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem spoke out to Fox News on a new requirement from the USDA that will essentially tie federal school lunch funding to adherence to the Biden administration’s interpretation of Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination.

Noem told “Life, Liberty & Levin” on Sunday that her state has the “strongest” legal protections against biological men competing in women’s sports, going on to discuss how President Biden is now trying to punish her state if it does not agree with his view of Title IX.

“This White House has threatened to take away all of our school lunch resources for poor and underprivileged kids if we don’t comply with their mandates,” she said.

“So it’s interesting to me that not only have they hurt my timber contracts to crush my lumber industry, not only have they mandated certain activities on their federal lands, such as National Parks and Bureau of Land Management Practices. Not only are they coming forward with higher taxes and more spending… they’re willing to hurt children.”

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A school lunch featuring a grilled cheese sandwich.
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

In a statement announcing the new policy, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said there must be “recogni[tion of] the vulnerability of the LGBTQI+ communities and provide them with an avenue to grieve any discrimination they face.”

“We hope that by standing firm against these inequities we will help bring about much-needed change,” the USDA chief added.

Vilsack’s directive requires state schools seeking National School Lunch Program resources to view Title IX as inclusive of gender identity.

South Dakota Attorney General Mark Vargo is one of 22 state attorneys general challenging the move in court, which is being led by Indiana’s Todd Rokita and Tennessee’s Herbert Slatery III.

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Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota.

Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota.
(Rachel Mummey/Bloomberg via Getty)

“We all know the Biden administration is dead-set on imposing an extreme left-wing agenda on Americans nationwide, but they’ve reached a new level of shamelessness with this ploy of holding up food assistance for low-income kids unless schools do the left’s bidding,” Rokita recently said.

Slatery accused the White House of trying to use the bureaucracy “again… to change law – which is Congress’ exclusive prerogative.”

A USDA official recently told Axios that students should not be denied access to nutritious lunches because of how they sexually identify:

“Whether you are grocery shopping, standing in line at the school cafeteria, or picking up food from a food bank, you should be able to do so without fear of discrimination,” Undersecretary Stacy Dean told the outlet.

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addressing the press.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addressing the press.
(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

On “Life, Liberty & Levin,” Noem added that there has overall been a shift in how she deals with the federal government, from the Trump to Biden administrations.

Under Trump, South Dakota was able to be “on offense” with the support of the White House, while in cases such as the school lunch directive, it requires her administration to be on defense.

“So it never ends. My best opportunity for pushing back on this federal government the way that it operates in Joe Biden’s America is to take them to court and sue them,” she said.

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“But unfortunately, what happens then is I end up on defense all day just trying to protect my people from the high inflation, from the high taxes, the high food costs that they’re dealing with each and every day that hurt their budget so badly.”

Under Trump, she said she was “out there with a president that was letting me do my job, and I was able to focus on economic development, focus on making sure that our state was low, regulations that we were low taxed.”

“It’s been a complete fundamental change since Joe Biden went into the White House,” Noem said, adding that nonetheless, South Dakota is thriving under conservative governance at the state level.

“We’re leading the country with our economy. Our kids are outperforming kids in every other state. And the educational outcomes. I have less than 700 people in South Dakota that are on unemployment today because when the president offered those elevated unemployment benefits, we were the only state that said, no, thank you.”

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