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NBJC Condemns Alleged “Banned Words List” at CDC and other Federal Agencies within HHS and State Department


Washington, DC – Credible news reports state the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other divisions within the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have been warned by top Trump Administration officials not to use certain words during the upcoming budget proposal process.  These prohibited words include “diversity,” “fetus” and “transgender.” Also, reports show the efforts of the Trump Administration have also impacted the work of the US State Department where officials have been instructed to use “sexual risk avoidance” instead of “sex education” in the President’s Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2018. The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation’s leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same-gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS, condemns these alleged efforts to censor public health agencies from communicating facts rooted in scientific evidence and conventional wisdom. NBJC’s Executive Director, David J. Johns, released the following statement in response to the “banned words list” at CDC and other federal agencies charged with protecting and advancing the health of Americans and people around the globe:

“The number one priority of the federal government is to serve and protect American citizens. However, the Trump Administration is doing the exact opposite by attempting to ban words and phrases that have been used to accurately describe the health and wellness of American citizens–especially those most often neglected and ignored.  Attempting to avoid using words like ‘diversity’ and ‘transgender’ in upcoming budget proposals for agencies including the CDC at HHS is a direct assault on truth and science by the Trump Administration and must be met with a firm rebuttal and resistance.”

“This censorship of language will have a dangerous reverberating impact on our nation as well as countries and communities we support abroad.  At home, the prohibited use of descriptive words has the potential to render the needs of an entire community invisible.  Public health agencies should continue to pursue evidence-based and culturally competent strategies to support individuals of trans* experience who continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV, and other health disparities. Sadly, the Trump Administration appears to believe the opposite.”

“The intellectual absurdity of this proposal with its attempts to ban words and avoid truths is a threat to our democracy.  Rather than attempting to add to the current polarizing climate plaguing the American people, the Trump Administration should invest in the work of supporting the American people, which includes implementing policies designed to improve the lives of all people rather than attempting to render some of us invisible. At NBJC we join the conglomerate of organizations, activists and concerned citizens who vehemently oppose this Administration’s continued attacks on democracy and marginalized communities.  We stand in solidarity with the public servants at the CDC, HHS and other agencies working to support the holistic health and wellness of American citizens in spite of the nefarious attempts to detract from this important work.”

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.