A Southern California religious institution, the Church of Compassion, along with its affiliated preschool, the Dayspring Christian Learning Center in El Cajon, have initiated legal proceedings against a funding suspension imposed by federal authorities.
This action, filed in a U.S. District Court, challenges the current administration’s interpretation of gender rules under Title IX, which the church and school argue infringe upon their religious convictions.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys, from the Alliance Defending Freedom, argue that the Biden administration’s broadened interpretation of the term “sex” within Title IX—which now includes sexual orientation and gender identity—has resulted in the cancellation of their funding from a federal food aid program.
They claim that the Church and the preschool, both not in compliance with this interpretation, have consequently had food aid withdrawn by the California Department of Social Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This funding had been used to support impoverished students enrolled in the preschool and daycare programs, amounting to a monthly provision between $3,500 to $4,500.
The lawsuit alleges violations of the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act by the Biden administration’s regulations.
Attorneys have petitioned the court for a preliminary injunction to be issued against both the state and federal entities, with a request to restore the funding agreement for their food program.
The plaintiffs’ amended complaint, lodged last Friday in the U.S. District Court in San Diego, avers that the new regulations would necessitate contravening their hiring practices and religious principles.
The Church and its associated preschool, who reportedly serve a number of LGBTQ+ families understanding and supportive of their religious teachings, have stated they will not acquiesce to the change in their beliefs.
The complaint reads, “But while the Church and Preschool serve all families, they will not teach or promote all messages.”
Failure to comply with the altered Title IX regulations would result in the forfeit of “the right to receive generally available public funds to feed needy children” in their local community, they assert.
Senior counsel of ADF, Jeremiah Galus, issued a statement: “The government is withholding food from families in need simply because their children attend a Christian preschool.”
Galus criticized the irony of an anti-discrimination initiative leading to the exclusion of the religious institution from its community service in El Cajon.
He said, “Ironically, in the name of combatting discrimination, government officials have excluded the church and preschool from serving the El Cajon community based solely on their religious beliefs and exercise. This is antithetical to the First Amendment’s promise of religious freedom and only hurts needy families and children.”
In a 2022 case, the Grant Park Christian Academy in Florida continued receiving federal funding under the National School Lunch Program despite Title IX requirements, after successful litigation against the USDA and Florida’s agriculture secretary.