CDC Director Disputes Trump’s Ban on Use of These Seven Words

The Trump administration reportedly banned the nation's leading health agency from using seven words, including “diversity,” in documents for the fiscal year 2019 budget, The Washington Post reported on December 15. However, on Sunday morning, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, disputed the ban.

Fitzgerald took to Twitter to assure the public that there is not a ban on the following words: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

“You may be understandably concerned about recent media reports alleging that CDC is banned from using certain words in budget documents. I want to assure you that CDC remains committed to our public health mission as a science- and evidence-based institution,” Fitzgerald tweeted.

In a series of six tweets, she repeatedly addressed the agency’s commitment to public health. Furthermore, she referred to a statement released by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, addressing the alleged ban.

“The assertion that HHS has 'banned words' is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process,” the HHS statement said. “HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”

According to an unnamed source, policy analysts at the CDC were notified of the banned words during a 90-minute meeting on Thursday, The Post reported. Other officials at the health agency also backed the claim that there is indeed a ban.

Analysts were presented with other phrases to substitute for some of the banned words. For instance, instead of using “science-based” or “evidence-based,” an alternate option is: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the source told The Post.

When the analysts learned of the ban, their reaction was “incredulous,” the longtime CDC analyst said. “It was very much, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding?’”

Upon hearing of the report, many health leaders spoke out expressing their disappointment.

“The words that we use ultimately describe what we care about and what we think are priorities,” Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health, told the Associated Press. “If you are saying you cannot use words like ‘transgender’ and ‘diversity,’ it’s a clear statement that you cannot pay attention to these issues.”

“Here’s a word that’s still allowed: ‘ridiculous,’” Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told the AP.