WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2018 – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in response to news that the Trump-Pence White House and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue are attacking LGBTQ youth by pressuring the national 4-H youth organization to rescind a policy welcoming LGBTQ participants.
The request demands “any and all records, including but not limited to letters, memos, emails, text messages, phone records, budget requests or estimates, and other documents related to the Trump administration pushing the national 4-H youth organization to withdraw a policy welcoming LGBTQ members.”
On Sunday, the Des Moines Register reported that the move, made by Heidi Green, then chief-of-staff to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, eventually led to the firing of Iowa 4-H Director John-Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas for vigorously defending the LGBTQ-inclusive policy. Chaisson-Cardenas is the first statewide Latino director in the organization’s history.
“For over a century, the national 4-H youth program has taught tens of millions of children the importance of character and community,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “This latest action by the Trump-Pence Administration is an unnecessary and cruel attack on LGBTQ youth that seeks to destroy community rather than create it. It is unconscionable that the anti-LGBTQ discrimination under this president has now inexplicably expanded into the Department of Agriculture. We are determined to get answers on how this came about and demand that Congress protect LGBTQ youth from this callous attack.”
The national 4-H (“head, heart, hands, and health”) youth program was created by Congress through the 1914 Smith-Lever Act, formalizing regional programs that began in the Midwest to teach character and community to young people. Since then, 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.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community. www.hrc.org