CDC denies report it plans to remove LGBT questions from federal health survey

Tue. May 29, 2018 4:53 PM by Carlos Santoscoy

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.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine