LGBTQ group presses Trump administration on its role in 4-H pulling transgender protections
Responding to a Des Moines Register investigation, the Human Rights Campaign is seeking information from the Trump administration regarding the decision to remove a proposed policy welcoming LGBTQ youth into 4-H, an international youth organization with more than 6 million members.
The Human Rights Campaign, which describes itself as the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, said in a news release Monday that they have sent a detailed Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal department that houses 4-H.
The group is asking for “any and all records” related to the Trump-Pence White House and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue “attacking” LGBTQ youth by calling for the inclusion policy’s removal.
"We want to understand who knew," said JoDee Winterhof, HRC's senior vice president for policy and political affairs and a Walnut, Iowa, native. "We want to understand the links inside the Department of Agriculture, which is one of the largest agencies in the federal government, but also links to other other parts of the administration."
The group hopes that records can not only provide insight on how the decision to remove the proposed policy was made, but also why any federal agency would seek to make LGBTQ kids feel unwelcome, as the rescinding of this guidance so clearly does, she said.
"An agency like the Department of Agriculture getting down into that level of micromanagement of the 4-H seems pretty incredible," she said.
Calling the Trump administration’s actions “inexcusable,” the HRC issued a news release announcing that “tens of millions of young people in America have participated in 4-H, learning invaluable life skills and developing a strong civic interest that benefits themselves and their communities.”
Indeed, 4-H alums took to social media after the Register published their investigation to say they were disappointed the youth organization seemed to be abandoning the principles that made it a place of refuge.
"I love coming from a small town in Iowa and the small town that I grew up in, and the idea that is a culture that would try to exclude, I just think, goes against the grain," Winterhof said.
As reported by the Register, the decision to remove the LGBT draft policy at a national level stoked fear and confusion across the organization and eventually led to the firing of John-Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas, the first Latino statewide leader in 4-H history.
The decision is the most recent effort of the Trump administration to roll back federal protections covering gender identity — or the deeply held sense of who one is that may differ from the sex organs with which one is born.
"The idea that the administration would want to harm youth in this way is something that we would fight tooth and nail every single day," Winterhof said. "We want to make sure that there are communities and there are places of acceptance for youth, for adults, no matter where they are in this country."
Read the Register's full investigation here: http://bit.ly/LGBTQ4-H
What was your experience in 4-H? Email Courtney Crowder at email@example.com.