CHEYENNE – “On May 5, 2022, President Biden’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that all state and local agencies funded by its sub-agency, Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), ‘must’ update its non-discrimination policies to include new provisions for ‘gender identity and sexual orientation,’ or risk the loss of millions in federal lunch dollars.
“The USDA is acting pursuant to an Executive Order signed on January 20, 2021, directing federal agencies to promulgate or revise rules enforcing the Administration’s new ‘Anti-Discrimination’ mandates. This matters because the Wyoming Department of Education would fall under the mandate’s affected category, as it receives about $40 million per fiscal year from FNS.
“As Superintendent of Public Instruction responsible for setting Department policy, I immediately opposed this action in the strongest terms possible on legal, political and moral grounds. The Biden Administration gets it wrong again because this action is illegal, which is why 26 State Attorneys General are linking arms and demanding a retraction. Undoubtedly, the USDA will face a flurry of lawsuits once rules made pursuant to the Executive Order are promulgated.
“This move not only represents the latest example of federal overreach, but one more blatant violation of state sovereignty. Our Wyoming Constitution (Article 1, Sections 2 & 3) already prohibits discriminating against any human being, for any reason. We don’t need the Nanny State holding our hands and telling us how to interpret or apply our laws.
“After consulting with other state education superintendents around the country, numerous Wyoming legislators and governing officials, as well as the AG’s office and other legal authorities, the short of it is this: we will not comply. Vulnerable children will not go unfed in Wyoming, and we will not allow boys in girls’ locker rooms. We categorically reject gender ideology and will not bow to the coercive will of a bully government.
“Treasurer Curt Meier and a host of Wyoming’s state leaders have assured me that Wyoming has the money to cover these lunches. We can cut ties with these federal lunch dollars and still provide for Wyoming kids – it only requires two things: the will of the Wyoming people, and the determination of Wyoming’s governing leaders. If we don’t fight this, we enable it.
“Therefore, I call on all Wyomingites to appeal to their local legislators concerning the liberating prospects of severing our dependence on federal dollars. Washington has shown its hand, and will never stop at forcing its woke agenda and ever-changing value system on people who refuse to embrace it. Be fully assured, this is not the end – they will be back (i.e. boys in girls sports, forced usage of pronouns, etc.)
“The Wyoming Legislature is constitutionally obligated to fund our public schools, and I will support (and encourage) all efforts to begin the process of cutting ties with federal funds while upholding the constitutional mandate to financially sustain Wyoming public education.
“Such action, of course, would have to be a phased endeavor, but it is completely doable, and I am fully committed to working with our governing body on how to proceed in a prudent manner.
“This statement is not to be interpreted as a call for a special session of the Wyoming Legislature, but at some point, we need to move on this or we will forever be under the feds’ thumb, beholden to a controlling political mindset that wants to own every aspect of our lives, including our belief system. This is a defining moment for the identity and future of Wyoming and its schools. We must break free if we are to be free.”
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Linda Finnerty, Communications Director