Dr. Jeff Howard

Assistant Director - University of Maryland Extension
10 - 10:15 am

Monday June 7th


10:15 - 11 am

Friday June 11th

Understanding the Effect of 4-H on Gay Male Youth Involved in Agriculture

Adolescent development is difficult in a general sense, but compounding factors make it even more challenging for youth who happen to be gay. For many rural youth who are gay, 4-H may be the only extra-curricular outlet they have available to them. Although all children need life skills to help them become caring and contributing members of your community, LGBTQ children are profoundly vulnerable to bullying and being excluded. For many gay men within the agricultural community, the 4-H experience was one that they look back on with fondness. However, there has not been research to provide support to these anecdotal statements about the impact of 4-H club experiences on gay boys and adolescents. This workshop will present an overview of a novel research study involving 169 gay 4-H male alums. We will exploring the consistent elements of the 4-H club experience that may have been supportive or encouraging to gay male youth in feeling included and accepted based on the research findings as shared by the respondents. The session will concentrate on the major research findings to help advise youth workers regarding suggested practices and constructs that could help create more inclusive and accepting environments for LGBTQ+ youth. While this study concentrated on gay male youth, the results could influence positive environments for all LGBTQ+ youth to feel welcomed and that they belong.