Metro Weekly

Senators tell Trump to stop censoring LGBTQ health information on federal websites

Letter from 19 senators asks White House to respond to inquiries about information removal by April 30

Error message – Photo: Gerd Altmann.

A group of U.S. senators wrote a letter to President Trump asking him to stop censoring important LGBTQ health information and resources on federal websites.

In the letter, 19 senators expressed concerns over the Trump administration’s decision to remove LGBTQ-related resources and health data from both the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health and Office of Management and Budget websites. 

The Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project recently reported on the removal of the LGBTQ-related information, which occurred between September and October 2017.

An HHS spokesperson told Politico that “the outdated lesbian and bisexual health pages were removed and the health content was integrated into the relevant health topics pages across the website.” But the Sunlight Foundation report determined that the existing health topic pages have not been updated, and that the missing health content has not been added elsewhere on the HHS website.

“We are troubled by these recent actions, which, coupled with other actions your Administration has taken to restrict information for LGBT people, reveal a pattern of censorship that fosters discrimination and undermines access to evidence-based health care resources that aid millions across the country,” the senators write in their letter.

“Such actions are especially concerning, as OWH is one of the most highly-trafficked HHS sites and serves as a vital public health resource for all women. In addition, we were alarmed to discover that sexual orientation and gender identity data collection resources and reports, which are necessary to understand the health disparities and the economic and demographic characteristics of the LGBT community, were removed from the [OMB Federal Committee of Statistical Methodology] website.”

The senators have asked the White House to respond by April 30 to a series of questions about the decision to remove the LGBTQ-related information, who approved it, and how the information that was removed can be supplemented to added back onto federal websites. They noted that failing to restore the information could potentially compromise the health of LGBTQ individuals, who generally enjoy less access to health care than the general population, and can be at higher risk for certain health conditions.

“You have repeatedly broken your campaign promises to support and protect the LGBT community, and this latest assault on a vulnerable population could further compromise the health of more than ten million LGBT people,” the letter concludes. “We are concerned that you are putting politics ahead of science and access to evidence-based health care that is critical for millions, and so we call on you to reverse course to ensure that our federal programs serve the needs of all people.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com