According to recent press reports, officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been told to not use the terms “diversity,” “transgender,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based,” among others, in the upcoming budget request for 2019. This prompted American Counseling Association Chief Executive Officer Richard Yep to write the Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) about the directive.
HHS oversees CDC, an agency with the stated mission to save lives and to protect people from health threats. This effort is described on the CDC website as follows: “To accomplish our mission, CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise.”
In part, the ACA letter to HHS includes the following:
“The American Counseling Association Code of Ethics honors diversity and embraces a multicultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts. In addition, the American Counseling Association has expressly supported the dissemination of accurate information about gender identity to counteract bias that is based in ignorance or unfounded beliefs.”
ACA objects to a ban on the very language that helps government officials communicate appropriately about people who have experienced bias, and also objects to the idea of the possible exclusion of all diverse people under an agency that protects the nation’s health.
Professional counselors are required to use counseling techniques that have a scientific foundation. The American Counseling Association letter also conveys that ACA is alarmed that CDC officials must find euphemisms for the terms “science-based” and “evidence-based”—and by the implication that these are concepts to be avoided at CDC.
The ACA request asks that these and other allegedly banned words no longer be barred from budget documents—or any other communications at the Centers for Disease Control.