The president is forcing the government and public further and further into the dark when it comes to accessibility to knowledge and resources.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were given a list of seven prohibited words and phrases during a meeting Thursday. The list includes “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based.”
That’s a pretty intentional list, but with an administration that’s already shown us who it’s riding for, no one should be surprised. A second HHS agency received a similar advisory to avoid using “entitlement,” “diversity,” and “vulnerable.” Participants in that agency were also told to use “Obamacare” instead of Affordable Care Act, and to use “exchanges” instead of “marketplaces” to describe the venues where people can purchase health insurance.
At the Department of State, certain documents now refer to sex education as “sexual risk avoidance.” In one of the plans under the President’s Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the document uses the phrase “sexual risk avoidance,” which has been defined in recent congressional funding bills as abstinence-only practices, as the primary form of sex education. This plan will be implemented in 2018.
This isn’t the first time that Trump restricted the language around official documents. In January, memos were issued to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees that forbid them to make social media posts about their work or speak with journalists. Also, their mentions of climate change policy were replaced with statements concerning the roll back of climate change regulation. In March, the Department of Energy banned staff members from using the phrases “climate change” and “Paris Agreement” in their communications.
If the foundation set this year is any implication of what’s to come, then this nation is about to be held in the dark for at least three more years. Without using specific words such as “transgender” and “diversity,” the most marginalized communities of the U.S. are at risk. Language is everything; to impose restrictions like these on an organization that was created to champion public health isn’t just stifling—it’s suffocating.