The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was told by President Donald Trump’s administration it could not use seven words in its 2019 budget – last night those words were projected onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC.
The words “foetus,” “entitlement”, “diversity”, “transgender”, “vulnerable”,“evidence-based”, and “science-based” were briefly seen beamed on the front of the building, located near the White House.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a DC-based LGBTQ advocacy group, partnered with artist Robin Bell for the temporary installation as a “declaration from the LGBTQ community,” the group said.
“We will not be erased” the lighted message read.
A CDC analyst told the Washington Post those in the agency could not believe the limits placed on it by the administration.
“It was very much, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding’,” said the analyst.
CDC Director Dr Brenda Fitzgerald tweeted that though people “may be understandably concerned about recent media reports alleging that CDC is banned from using certain words in budget documents”, the words were not banned from agency use.
She posted: “As part of our commitment to provide for the common defence of the country against health threats, science is and will remain the foundation of our work.”
The Post had reported that it was not a total ban on using all the seven terms.
“Instead of “science-based” or “evidence-based”, the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes”, the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered, the newspaper reported.
One former federal official told the New York Times the ban and alternative suggestions did not actually limit what the CDC could say to the American public in research documents and announcements, but that the administration is “saying not to use it in your request for money because it will hurt you...It’s about a budget strategy to get funded.”
The budget documents were also sent to other government agencies and Congress.
That same official called the Trump government’s move “absurd and Orwellian”.
The Department of Health and Human Services oversees the CDC and spokesman Matt Lloyd told the Post his agency “strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions”.
The Food and Drug Administration, also housed under HHS, did not receive any such guidance on language.
However, forbidding the seven terms does fit a pattern at HHS.
The agency had eliminated two questions about gender identity and sexual orientation from a demographic survey of elderly Americans back in March.
The survey results are published in a “very large and important” statistical report that helps the government identify the particular challenges older Americans are facing when it comes to employment, healthcare, housing, and other issues, David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director told The Independent at the time.
The HHS under the Trump administration said in the Federal Register that “no changes” had been made to the survey, said Mr Stacy.
The agency website was also scrubbed of information about how LGBTQ Americans can adopt children or where to seek help if they are victims of sex trafficking.
The administration’s move is also reflective of a government-wide message. Recently the Environmental Protection Agency deleted any mention of the term “climate change” from its documents and website.
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