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Tampa Christian school files lawsuit, saying federal regulations violate its religious views

Grant Park Christian Academy
The Christian school in East Tampa serves 56 students in pre-K to eighth grade.

Students at Grant Park Christian Academy come from families who live below the federal poverty level and qualify to receive free lunches

A Tampa Christian school is suing the Biden administration and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

The conservative group, Alliance Defending Freedom, is representing Grant Park Christian Academy. It says the school's students will be denied access to a free lunch program because of a new federal anti-discrimination policy.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds the program that provides free lunches to students who fall below the poverty level. It requires compliance with regulations under Title IX that were recently revised to forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But it does contain exemptions for religious schools.

The lawsuit argues compliance would violate the school's religious freedom.

"All the children at Grant Park Christian Academy come from low-income families who fall below the federal poverty threshold and they’re entitled to receive funding for their education," said attorney Erica Steinmiller-Perdomo.

"The Biden Administration is trying to redefine Title IX in a way that will cause the school to choose between violating its religious beliefs, or serving essential meals in school. We filed suit in order to stop these unlawful mandates."

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services disputed those claims, saying the state agency is not responsible for federal regulations.

"Our office has yet to be served in what appears to be a politically-motivated attempt to distract from the fact that the DeSantis Administration and his Department of Children and Families are failing to carry out the federal nutrition programs."

The agency's Commissioner is a democratic candidate for Florida Governor.

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