The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) has denied a report that the federal agency will no
longer collect data on the health of LGBT Americans from a major
federal survey administered by all 50 states.
The survey in question is an optional
module that is part of the annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
System (BRFSS). The BRFSS surveys Americans on behavioral risk
factors such as car safety, obesity and exercise. More than 30
states and territories reportedly used the optional LGBT module.
Bernadette Burden, a CDC spokesperson,
told the Washington Blade that no decision has been made to
leave out the questions.
“The 2019 BRFSS questionnaire has not
been finalized,” Burden
said. “The sexual orientation and gender identity optional
module is an approved optional module for the BRFSS and there are
plans to make it available in 2019. States may choose to use this
optional module for their 2019 BRFSS questionnaires.”
The Williams Institute at the
University of California, Los Angeles said in a statement that a CDC
official revealed the decision to remove the module during a Denver
conference. The organization said that the official said that
starting in 2019 the BRFSS will no longer include the optional module
on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Rachel Dowd, a spokesperson for the
Williams Institute, responded.
“A CDC official disclosed at the
American Association for Public Opinion Research conference that the
optional SOGI module was being dropped from the BRFSS,” Dowd said.
“We are encouraged that the CDC is now stating that there are plans
to make the SOGI module available in 2019. We look forward to
receiving affirmative confirmation that the SOGI module will indeed
be included in the BRFSS in 2019 and going forward.”
President Donald Trump picked Robert
Redfield, a leading AIDS researcher and physician, to head the CDC.
According to The
Washington Post, Redfield until only recently served on the
board of Children's AIDS Fund International, formerly Americans for
Sound AIDS/HIV Policy, a Christian-based organization founded by
Shepherd and Anita Smith. The Smiths, while helping children
devastated by the epidemic, take a harsh view on adults who contract
the disease. They support abstinence-only education and efforts to
alter the sexuality of gay men and lesbians, and oppose condom use to
lower HIV rates. Other
outlets have reported that the group believes that AIDS is “God's
judgment” against homosexuals. During the height of the AIDS
epidemic, Redfield supported separating HIV-positive soldiers and
barring from service military recruits who tested positive.