Trump team colluded with right-wing radicals to target LGBT kids


At the behest of far-right fringe figures, Trump's Department of Agriculture forced 4-H, the agriculturally-focused youth group, to rescind guidance that welcomed LGBT youth.

Earlier this year, the youth organization 4-H proposed language saying that it would welcome "all gender identities, gender expressions, sexual orientations, and sexes." Additionally, the proposed language called for 4-H clubs to let transgender people use the accommodations that conform with their gender identity.

Right-wing Christians immediately reacted with fury, accusing 4-H of fomenting a "transgender revolution in rural America."

Prior to the Trump administration, this sort of thinking might have been relegated to Fox News and right-wing blogs. Now, however, these bigoted views are reflected in the highest echelons of the Trump administration, which means that the LGBT-affirming language was inevitably removed.

The major architect of making sure that the language was removed was Heidi Green. At the time, Green was the chief of staff for USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. Prior to being named to Trump’s cabinet, the very conservative Perdue had served as governor of Georgia, where he did things like holding public vigils to pray for rain.

Perdue also has a long history as a homophobe, having opposed marriage equality and, while running for governor, denounced "liberal judges and radical homosexual activists."

Green’s demand that the language be taken down was directed at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the body that oversees 4-H at the national level. Her demand led to NIFA insistently urging that 4-H organizations in New York and Iowa remove the LGBT guidance.

Ultimately, it also led to the firing of Iowa 4-H director John-Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas, who had defended the policy. That firing was celebrated by conservatives.

This is just the latest in a long series of actions by the Trump administration to harm already-marginalized communities. Trump himself demanded a transgender troop ban that appeared to be a product of his Fox News viewing habits, and also enthusiastically embraced the cruel practice of family separation.

But the rest of his administration works hard at being equally cruel.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions scorned domestic violence victims that simply wanted a better life in America. Betsy DeVos met with a group that shamed rape survivors and let them weigh in on federal guidelines for handling campus sexual assault.

It was inevitable that someone like Perdue and his chief of staff would take the opportunity to harm another marginalized community as soon as they got the chance.

4-H’s motto has always been "To make the best better." Sadly, under the Trump administration, that goal entirely excludes LGBT youth.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.