The Trump administration told policy analysts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta that they could not use certain words in documents for the 2019 budget, the Washington Post reported. Those words were “fetus,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
The administration prohibited these words from being used in the budget, which should be released in February, and in supporting materials for Congress and CDC partners. A “longtime CDC analyst” who spoke to the Post said that they did not remember a time when an administration previous banned “controversial” words from budget documents. The analyst said it’s probable that other areas of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have had the same directive.
The administration did not offer replacement words for all of the banned words, but in the case of the terms “evidence-based” and “science-based,” the administration suggested the CDC use the phrase “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”
The CDC does research that involves LGBTQ people, fetuses, and health disparities among racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic groups, so the administration’s decision to prohibit the use of these words may not please CDC officials. The CDC released an issue brief on transgender communities and HIV in 2016 and gathers information on LGB youth’s experience with harassment, dating violence, and bullying.
The administration has already refused to recognize people in the LGBTQ community in a variety of ways. In March, HHS decided to stop counting LGBT people in two surveys, the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants and the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living. These surveys address the health disparities LGBTQ people often experience. HHS also archived a page on federal services for LGBTQ people, the Post noted.
The Trump administration also moved away from the possibility of including information about sexuality and gender identity in the U.S. Census. Advocates for the LGBTQ community had been pushing the government to include questions about gender identity and sexuality in the U.S. Census for years and in 2015, the Obama administration put together a task force to better understand how to collect this data. The Census Bureau received letters from a few major agencies asking to include LGBTQ data in the census. Once Trump took office, however, the administration pulled back from including the questions. Although there could be several reasons for the questions not being included, such as collecting more data on the subject before including questions, advocates for the LGBTQ community said the community was being erased.
The administration has been hostile to science and consensus on climate change as well. The phrases “climate change” and “global warming” have been disappearing from government websites since Trump took office. A DOE Energy Information Administration’s Energy Kids page was changed to downplay climate change and a link to a guide on climate change was removed, according to the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a watchdog group.
Several administration officials have shown themselves to be sympathetic to those who resist learning basic facts about health and climate change if they don’t outright make false claims themselves. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been supported by groups that do not believe in human-caused climate change, such as the Heartland Institute, which sent materials to K-12 and college science teachers that don’t accept basic facts about climate change. She also champions voucher-program supported schools, some of which have little accountability to teach accurate information. One example of a private evangelical Christian school supported by voucher programs taught people that mental illness was a function of satanic influence, according to a Huffington Post feature on these schools. A woman hired for a top position at HHS, Theresa Manning, claimed that contraceptives don’t work and worked for the Family Research Council, which has fiercely opposed rights for LGBTQ people.
According to the Washington Post, the CDC analyst they interviewed said the reaction of people in the meeting was “incredulous.” The analyst told the Post, “It was very much, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding?’ ”