At a press conference last week Gov. Ron DeSantis accused the Biden administration of taking children’s lunch money away because of Florida’s decision to ban transgender athletes in amateur female sports. 

“We did that. I think most people agree it’s the proper thing to do,” DeSantis said. “Biden is now threatening to penalize states that have taken basic common sense actions like just recognizing the importance of women’s sports."

But that’s not quite true.

According to a memo from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “state and local agencies, program operators and sponsors that receive funds from [Food and Nutrition Service] must investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Those organizations must also update their non-discrimination policies and signage to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.”

The memo cites the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County as one of the reasons for the decision. In Bostock the court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against discrimination because they are gay or transgender.

“A key step in advancing these principles is rooting out discrimination in any form – including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “At the same time, we must recognize 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.”

Meanwhile Nikki Fried, Democratic candidate for governor, blasted DeSantis and accused him of outright lying.

“Governor DeSantis is the deranged one for using hungry kids in this political stunt. He is lying. Period. The National School Lunch Program has nothing to do with bathrooms, locker rooms, or sports. Our department passed on nondiscrimination guidelines from the federal government — which only apply to the lunch line — saying that children can’t be discriminated against by being denied meals at school. That’s it. Nothing else,” Fried said in a prepared statement. “If he really cared so much about feeding kids, he would have applied for available federal supplemental child nutrition funding — which I’ve been calling on him to do for months. Now that’s deranged.”