Report: Trump Administration Has Made Significant Changes to LGBTQ Content on Federal Websites

Rainbow colors lit up the White House in 2015 after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states in 2015.

Rainbow colors lit up the White House in 2015 after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states in 2015. Rena Schild/Shutterstock.com

Language, resources and content have been changed since January 2017.

A new report shows how LGBTQ-related language and content on federal websites has changed under the Trump administration.

The Web Integrity Project, a division of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for open government, released a report on Thursday on the results of its textual analysis and web monitoring of the federal government’s approximately 30,000 web pages since Inauguration Day in January 2017. 

Overall, the report found there have been “significant, but uneven shifts toward more inclusive identity language.” There is less use of “sex” in favor of “gender,” more use of “transgender,” “gender minority,” and “cisgender,” as well as an increase in references to “HIV.” However, the report said the trends are not uniform within or across departments.

For example, on the Health and Human Services website—which the report identifies as the agency with the most relevant web pages—LGBTQ terms were 8% less prominent than before Trump took office. Meanwhile, “religious freedom” was used 20 more times, (or 667% more) and “faith-based and community organizations” was used 35 more times (or 875% more) from the end of Obama's tenure. “The data suggest that, at least within the main offices of HHS, websites are being altered to reflect the Trump administration’s focus on freedom of religion or conscience,” said the report. 

In terms of content change, the Web Integrity Project found that resources on discrimination protections and prevention as well as resources for LGBTQ community-specific information have been removed under the Trump administration. 

“Access to resources relating to discrimination protections in healthcare, housing, the workplace, and education have been limited or removed in the Trump administration, especially those resources relating to the protection of transgender individuals,” the report stated. For example, HHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Healthcare website removed information on non-discrimination in healthcare to the LGBTQ community and the Housing and Urban Department removed information on non-discrimination in housing for transgender individuals.

Information on travel, health, small businesses and safety for the LGBTQ community has also been removed. One example the report cited is the State Department’s removal of a page that outlined the U.S. government’s commitment “to promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons” around the world. 

Lastly, the report listed some significant changes that it said have not been reported yet:

  • References to Executive Order 13672 were removed from a Labor Department Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs page on sexual orientation and gender identity. The executive order banned that type of discrimination for federal contractors. 
  • Data coverage goals for the LGBT-community were reduced from “Total coverage” to a “10 percent improvement” on two pages of Healthpeople.gov, an interagency enterprise that sets “science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.” 

“Since President Trump’s inauguration, his administration has made numerous formal policy changes, as well as informal policy announcements, that affect the rights and lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) Americans,” the report said. “Our goals are to ensure the public is aware of the changes that are happening on websites and agencies are held accountable when they unduly alter or remove access to information that the public relies upon and which can seriously affect the rights and opportunities of Americans.”

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