2022 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – 4-H Youth Development
Dr. Nancy A. Moores, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County, Brooksville, FL
Situation: According to Tebbe & Moradi (2016), the suicide attempt rate of the general population is 2-9% while it is 26-45% among those identifying as transgender. Transgender/nonbinary/gender questioning persons deal bullying, harassment, and misunderstandings daily. Research conducted biannually by GLSENR (2016, 2020, 2022) indicates students reported feeling unsafe at school: (71.8%) because of gender expression, (42.5%) avoid bathrooms, (45.2%) avoid after school activities. Youth identifying or expressing any gender identity other than that in which they were assigned at birth do not feel included, welcome, or safe in many educational settings. There is no sense of belonging which is critical in healthy human development. Methods: I spent three years conducting national research on the existence of and need for gender neutrality policies and guidelines in 4-H programs. I surveyed 4-H agents and conducted semi-structured interviews with agents, 4-H administrators, and Extension administrators. There was an extensive literature review conducted and the compilation of all research data was put into a report which is the basis for this poster. Results: The final dissertation on the need for gender neutrality policies in a 4-H program was presented and defended successfully. A change management plan has been formulated and I am making efforts to educate others on inclusive language, pronoun usage, preferred name importance, and creating welcoming, inclusive environments. Several 4-H faculty and staff members have adopted practices reflecting more inclusive practices (behavior change). Multiple diversity, equity, and inclusion presentations are scheduled as a result of my work. Conclusion: To be a fully inclusive program, 4-H needs to be open and welcoming to transgender/nonbinary youth. Doing so requires administrators to adopt guidelines and policies to give agents clear guidance, education, and tools and begin the process of creating a true sense of belonging.