Elizabeth Warren strongly criticized Republicans for what she called “classroom bullies” in their attempt to deny LGBTQ+ children access to free school meals. During a Senate speech on November 1st, the senior senator from Massachusetts labeled the bill as unjustifiable.
Warren argued that the bill wasn't just about school lunches; it was an attempt to send a harmful message to LGBTQ+ kids, suggesting they are not welcome and that discrimination against them is acceptable. She firmly stated her support for LGBTQ+ children, emphasizing that their rights matter and they are welcome at school.
The resolution, sponsored by Republican senator Roger Marshall, aimed to nullify an anti-discrimination law created by the US Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). This law prevents schools from denying free meals based on a student's gender identity or sexual orientation. The law was issued following the 2020 Supreme Court decision on Bostock v. Clayton, which extended civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ individuals.
Warren pointed out that the FNS policy is not a new interpretation but rather aligns with existing anti-discrimination laws and Supreme Court rulings. The attempt by Republicans to overturn this policy was defeated in a vote, with only two Republicans breaking ranks to oppose it.
Warren emphasized that the USDA policy would help children access proper nutrition, reduce discrimination, and bring agency guidance in line with Supreme Court precedent. She also cited data indicating a significant correlation between housing instability, food insecurity, and LGBTQ+ youth.
Senator Marshall, in response to the bill's failure, claimed that the USDA policy was being “weaponized” to enforce transgender policies on children, arguing that the USDA had no authority to impose these policies on schools.
In summary, the debate centered on the rights and well-being of LGBTQ+ students and their access to essential school meals, with strong arguments made on both sides of the issue.