Congress

  1. On May 19, 2022, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) introduced the Women’s Bill of Rights. The bill clarifies that for purposes of federal law, “a person’s ‘sex’ means his or her biological sex (either male or female) at birth.” It also states that “there are important reasons to distinguish between the sexes with respect to athletics, prisons, domestic violence shelters, restrooms, and other areas, particularly where biology, safety, and privacy are implicated.”

The Executive Branch

  1. On May 5, 2022, the USDA Civil Rights Division issued a memorandum entitled Application of Bostock v. Clayton County to Program Discrimination Complaint Processing—Policy Update. The memorandum clarifies for state agencies and program operators, including operators in the National School Lunch Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), that the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Civil Rights Division interprets sex discrimination under Title IX and the Food and Nutrition Act to include discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

    The memorandum directs state agencies and program operators to “make any changes necessary to ensure complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation are processed . . . as complaints of discrimination on the basis of sex.”

    The National School Lunch Program is the nation’s second largest food and nutrition assistance program, operating in nearly 100,000 public and private schools, including private religious schools, at a total cost of $14.2 billion.

  2. On May 18, 2022, only three weeks after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the creation of the first Disinformation Governance Board, DHS employees informed the Washington Post that the board is being “paused” and the board’s executive director, Nina Jankowicz, had officially resigned from her role.

    While the board’s work is put on hold, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has asked former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick to lead a review of the board through the Homeland Security Advisory Council. The council will decide whether to shut down the board permanently. After the board’s creation was announced, some religious liberty advocates voiced concerns that the board would censor religious viewpoints.

    In recent months, the Biden Administration launched several initiatives to control so-called misinformation, but this is the first time the administration has had to halt its misinformation-control work due to public criticism. In January 2022, the Biden Administration mobilized at least 19 federal agencies to create new lists to track religious accommodation requests by employees, including employees seeking religious exemptions to a federal vaccine mandate. In February 2022, DHS released a bulletin warning that the U.S. faced “terrorism threats” from “false or misleading narratives regarding . . . COVID-19.” In March 2022, the Office of the Surgeon General published a Request for Information asking for stories and research on health misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including information that has “led people to decline COVID-19 vaccines.”

 

 

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