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Warren Chastises GOP Over Bill to Allow Schools to Bar LGBTQ Kids From Lunches

“This is not a complex issue,” Warren said, blasting Republicans for proposing a change to existing LGBTQ protections.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on May 4, 2023.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is speaking out against legislation — backed by nearly every single Republican in the “upper house” of Congress — that would have allowed schools across the U.S. to deny students free lunches on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Senate Joint Resolution 42 (SJR 42), authored by Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas, sought to strip away a rule that was implemented in the spring of 2022 by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). That rule was issued in response to (and in compliance with) a 2020 Supreme Court judgment that prohibited discrimination against LGBTQ people under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Marshall’s bill would remove that rule under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to reject any changes to executive branch federal policy within a set timeframe after a new president takes office.

The Senate came incredibly close to passing Marshall’s proposal last week, with 47 senators voting in favor and 50 voting against it.

Almost all Democrats voted against the bill, save for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), who voted in favor of the measure. Only two Republican senators (Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) voted against it.

Marshall decried his bill’s failure to pass the chamber, saying that the USDA was being “weaponized” to “implement transgender policies.”

A week after the vote, Warren rejected Marshall’s grievances on the Senate floor, noting that the bill was “never really about school lunches,” but rather about Republicans’ goal “to send a message to LGBTQ+ kids that they are not welcome, to send a message that it is OK to discriminate against these kids because of who they are.”

“We deal with a lot of complex issues here every day. This is not a complex issue,” Warren said.

Warren stated that the USDA’s actions were not “some strange, new interpretation of the law” relating to school lunches, but instead the implementation of “anti-discrimination laws that apply across government, in line with the Supreme Court’s reading.”

“This is what the Republicans attempted to overturn,” Warren added.

Warren stated unequivocally that the legislation “is wrong.”

“We proudly stand with LGBTQ+ kids. Your rights matter. You are welcome at school,” Warren said, adding that the USDA rule “will help kids” and will “reduce discrimination” against those who are LGBTQ.

Warren added that LGBTQ kids are “almost twice as likely to live in a household that experiences food insecurity,” and that transgender kids “almost three times more likely not to have enough food to eat.”

“The last thing our kids need is adults behaving like classroom bullies and trying to justify taking away their lunches,” Warren concluded. “I am glad the Senate rejected this resolution.”

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