The CDC Is Forbidding 7 Non-Offensive Words From Its Budgets

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that senior members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had developed a list of seven words that CDC staffers were not to use in reports:

  • Evidence-based
  • Science-based
  • Diversity
  • Transgender
  • Fetus
  • Vulnerable
  • Entitlement

It’s no secret that the Trump administration has shown disdain for science, people of color, the LGBT community, abortion rights and welfare recipients, but to outright ban these words is Orwellian.

Therefore, news of these banned words inspired a petition here at Care2: Tell Trump Don’t Censor the CDC!

Over the weekend, a spokesperson for the CDC described the Post’s report as a “complete mischaracterization” without denying the existence of the list. Reading between the lines, it seems like CDC leadership did in fact strongly discourage staffers from using these terms in specific contexts.

Anonymous sources from the CDC followed up with the press to say that the terms are to be excluded from budgetary proposals so that conservative members wouldn’t be tempted to pull funding to the CDC. Essentially, the CDC was trying to maintain its current work while tiptoeing around a highly politicized legislature.

Apparently, the CDC even offered staffers verbose alternative phrases to get around saying any of the terms. For example, instead of saying “science-based,” CDC staff could write, “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”

Arguably, that’s not the same thing as saying “science-based,” though, since it’s watering it down with “community standards and wishes,” which sounds like a dog-whistle to Republicans that conservative “values” could override scientific findings.

Okay, so maybe the CDC is not turning its back on science and is just trying to navigate a complex political climate to continue serving the American people. Even if the words are only banned from budgets as a matter of strategy, it doesn’t make the situation that less unsettling.

We live under a political system where our lawmakers are potentially offended by the notion of using science to solve issues of public health. It’s a system where discussing diversity is off-putting to the white majority. We are facing a serious distortion of reality under GOP rule.

As the AP points out, flagging these words goes beyond budgetary wording. When employees are under the impression that they need to avoid topics that involve transgender people, diversity and vulnerable populations, it invariably tells them to avoid work covering these topics.

Take Action

Congress is full of big boys, AKA senior citizen white men, who should be able to handle seeing these words addressed as public health matters. Regardless of the CDC’s motivation, we urge CDC leadership and the Trump administration to do their job without censorship of critical words.

Sign the petition to put these “banned” words back into the discourse and back into the CDC budget.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W8 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer9 months ago

Interesting. Hmmmmm.

Lisa M
Lisa M10 months ago


Lisa M
Lisa M10 months ago


Paulo R
Paulo R10 months ago


Chrissie R
Chrissie R10 months ago

Thank you for posting.

Ruth S
Ruth S10 months ago


Danuta Watola
Danuta W10 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Amanda M
Amanda Mabout a year ago

Petition signed with a vengeance! I am so sick and tired of willful ignorant assclowns trying to dumb the world down to fit their narrow viewpoint and "ideal" world where the only "real people" are rich white hetero Christian MEN! RESIST!

Mary B
Mary Babout a year ago

According to a source who works closely with the Center for Disease Control [CDC] the ONLY reason this is being done is because the REPUBLICAN congress controls the FUNDING and the banned phrases are to not trigger their mindless reaction to cut funding. As soon as the present crop of repubs is cleaned out we will get back to business. This isn't about censorship.