Lambda Legal is criticizing the Trump administration over the appointment of Valerie Huber, a proponent of abstinence-only education with a history of promoting anti-LGBTQ propaganda, to be Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary for Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Huber is the president and CEO of Ascend, a D.C.-based national organization promoting what it calls “sex risk avoidance (SRA) education.” Critics have accused Huber and Ascend of spreading misinformation about sexual health and human sexuality in their teaching materials.
In a document produced by Ascend on sex education for transgender students, Ascend discourages educators from affirming a student’s gender identity.
“Knowing the considerable fluidity of gender identity conflict for an adolescent experiencing such conflict, it would be inappropriate and unethical to assert or affirm, that their current gender identity, if opposite their biological sex, is a permanent status, since most gender dysphoria will be resolved and most adolescents will eventually accept the gender assigned to them at birth,” Ascend’s guidance to sexual education teachers reads.
Lambda Legal has said that the failure of adults to recognize a student’s gender identity can lead to isolation, harassment, and violence at the hands of other students, which can increase the likelihood of contemplating suicide.
“Valerie Huber is a dangerous choice for such an important job within the Department of Health and Human Services, a department dedicated to the health and well-being of the public. Her history of pushing anti-LGBTQ propaganda in schools is despicable and disqualifying,” Sharon McGowan, the director of strategy for Lambda Legal, said in a statement.
“As demonstrated by her record, Huber is just the latest addition to Trump administration’s roster of science-denialists, McGowan continued. “By continuing to promote moralistic abstinence-only approaches to sexual health, Huber cares more about promoting her own religious views rather than advancing public health. Study after study shows us that honest sex education that is rooted in science and free of stigma creates the best outcomes for young people and public health.
“From the perspective of public health, the appointment of Valerie Huber is a complete disaster.”
Huber is the third person whose appointment to a position within the Department of Health and Human Services has been fiercely criticized due to past anti-LGBTQ statements or policy positions. Roger Severino, a fierce critic of LGBTQ rights in general, and specifically of requiring insurance companies to cover transgender people’s transition-related expenses, was recently appointed to be the director of HHS’ Office for Civil Rights. Another appointee, Charmaine Yoest, has a history of anti-transgender rhetoric, referring to them as “crazy” and “creatures,” saying that transition surgery is “a joke,” and comparing them to sexual predators.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!