By Courtney Crowder and Jason Clayworth
The Trump administration pushed the national 4-H youth organization to withdraw a controversial policy welcoming LGBT members — a move that helped lead to the ouster of Iowa’s top 4-H leader earlier this year, a Des Moines Register investigation has found.
The international youth organization, with more than 6 million members, introduced the new policy to ensure LGBT members felt protected by their local 4-H program — part of a larger effort to modernize the federally authorized youth group and broaden membership.
Several states posted the policy on their websites, including Iowa, where it prompted fierce opposition from conservatives and some evangelical groups.
“The current focus of this campaign may be Iowa, but the values and vision of the entire Cooperative Extension are under attack,” Andy Turner, director of the New York 4-H program, wrote in an email to John-Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas, Iowa’s top 4-H leader, last April.
But within days of the LGBT policy’s publication, Heidi Green, then-chief of staff for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, requested that it be rescinded, Sonny Ramaswamy, then-director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the federal department that administers 4-H, told the Register.
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