December 20, 2017

Dear SAHM members:

We have all been outraged and alarmed to read the reported directive to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ban specific words and phrases in official budget documents. Those words were reported to include diversity, fetus, transgender, vulnerable, evidence-based, science-based, and entitlement. The reported banned words are an attack on our core values and mission, and are a significant threat to the adolescents and young people we serve. 

SAHM and the broader science community are deeply troubled by any attempt to soften the data driven efforts by CDC.  We have been in contact with several professional organizations and have added our signature on to an organizational sign-on letter to the Acting Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services opposing the proposed 7 banned words at CDC.  

Addressing these reports, CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, stated “I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important public health programs. As part of our commitment to provide for the common defense of the country against health threats, science is and will remain the foundation of our work. CDC has a long-standing history of making public health and budget decisions that are based on the best available science and data and for the benefit of all people—and we will continue to do so.”

We welcome the words of Dr. Fitzgerald and will remain vigilant in our effort to ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services is able to competently fulfill its mandate on behalf of the health of all Americans and those around the world. We strongly encourage your individual advocacy efforts also.  While there has been a denial of these words being banned, the fact that this dialogue has emerged and the specific words banned should cause us alarm. It requires our continued monitoring and advocacy.  The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine is and will remain an organization that seeks and values diversity, cares for the most vulnerable, and is evidenced based.

Yours in solidarity,

Tamera Coyne-Beasley, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM
President, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine

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