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Iowa Kids Quit 4-H Club After Their LGBTQ+ Message Erased

Iowa Kids Quit 4-H Club After Their LGBTQ+ Message Erased

4-H Iowa sign

The kids painted a message that everyone was welcomed at 4-H.


Three kids who were part of the Odebolt, Iowa 4-H club are quitting after a window painting they did that included a rainbow was removed by one of the club’s leaders.

Two siblings — Frannie Burns, 10, and Elwood Burns, 12 — had been active members of the club, according to local television station KCCI. Another child quit in solidarity with the Burns family.

On Sunday, October 1, the kids were painting store windows to recognize National 4-H Week and bring attention to the organization. The group looks to instill leadership and positive learning in youth.

Besides using the name of the club and urging people to join, the children had free rein on the design of the window.

Twelve-year-old Elwood was assigned to the pain the window of the local newspaper, The Chronicle.

He wrote, “Have you heard the news? 4-H is 4 everyone,” with a rainbow directly under.

The following day as they drove past, the family noticed the rainbow was gone.

"I wasn't expecting that at all, I was kind of in shock I didn't really know what to do," Elwood Burns told KCCI. "I also didn't want to make a huge deal out of it, but I think inclusion should not be erased from a window like that, especially when 4-H is supposed to be fully inclusive in supporting LGBTQ+."

The kids’ mother, Rachel Burns, called the leaders of the club to ask what happened. The club, she said, had received complaints about the painting.

KCCI reports that it isn’t quite clear who complained. The paper said it had no problem with the painting.

The family says the leaders should have gone to them first, before taking it on themselves to remove it.

Rachel Burns told the station that while many people have reached out in support, some say she shouldn’t have brought attention to the club in such a way.

Interim 4-H state program leader, Mitchell Hoyer, sent a statement to KCCI.

"Iowa 4-H Youth Development is working with local staff and volunteer leaders to address this situation. We are committed to creating high-quality learning environments in which young people feel a sense of belonging as they build skills to make a positive impact on their communities," it reads.

In a letter to the club, Frannie Burns wrote, "I believe (removing the rainbow) was childish and inappropriate. I also believe that this is telling the children of this 4-H club that it is right not to include members of the LGBTQ+ community which is not in fact right. This is the reason I am quitting this club and moving to a new inclusive club. This is also the reason I ask this club either to change for the better or close."

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