Researchers at the Web Integrity Project combed thousands of U.S. government web pages to trace how LGBTQ-related content has changed in two years under the Trump administration. It’s not good: Antidiscrimination information has disappeared, along with LGBTQ data and resource pages in general.
More than anything, it’s clear that the Trump administration lacks coherent messaging. Changes found by the project vary depending on the department. Across 142 government websites with LGBTQ content, 57% had significant alterations to LGBTQ-related terms, while the rest maintained their Obama-era wording.
Specific examples give a sense of the policy aims of each department:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention replaced “LGBTQ” with “LGB” on pages about queer youth, while also deleting transgender statistics from the 2015 and 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. Insufficient data about LGBTQ people have long hampered good policymaking.
- The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity removed a number of explanations and resources about discrimination against LGBT people and HIV-positive people, meaning that people facing housing discrimination cannot access information about their rights and current laws on those pages.
- The Department of Health and Human Services has largely abandoned identity language, with a 40% dip in use of the term “transgender” and a 25% dip in “gender,” in favor of religious-freedom terminology, which can be problematic in allowing, for example, healthcare providers to refuse transgender patients or procedures.
What’s most worrying is that the researchers found a number of website changes that do not reflect formal policy changes. For example, the administration has tried to reverse Obama-era laws preventing discrimination based on gender identity, with limited success. Yet within a month of Trump taking office, the Department of Labor removed pages about and references to an Obama-era executive order, EO 13672, that protects federal contractors from discrimination based on gender identity. The order itself is still in effect.
The Web Integrity Project monitors federal websites, assessing whether changes reflect formal policy shifts. When they don’t, the project alerts the agency, experts, and the public.