WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) was deeply troubled when it was widely reported that budget employees for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were told by their leadership that in preparing their fiscal 2019 budgets, they could not use seven specific words and phrases. The offensive words include vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based.
This is extremely problematic because the targeted words help to describe populations and quality control standards that are essential for managing threats to the nation’s public health and well-being. Removing these words from being a part of the necessary terminology of public health professionals serves no useful purpose—and runs counter to our democratic principles. This perplexing directive only leads to confusion and raises concerns that the Trump administration puts politics ahead of the important work done by the CDC.
The sense of distrust is compounded by the fact that this is not the first time, over the past 11 months, that federal agencies have forbidden its employees to use selected words or phrases. Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency have received an edict not to use the words environment, health, pollution, endangered, and climate change.
It is without a doubt that the prohibition of these words represents blatant attempts to censor language that does not conform with environmental and public health philosophies of officials in the Trump administration. These attacks on science do not serve the interests of the American people and inhibit the mission of these federal agencies.
Therefore, NASW insists that the administration direct its department secretaries and agency administrators to refrain from using censorship to negate scientific findings and subjugate policy views with which they disagree.