U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is circulating a letter in Congress that calls on the Bush administration to explain why it deleted gay and lesbian health information from a government website.
The information had appeared on a Department of Health and Human Services site hosted by the department’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It provided preventative health information to the GLBT community on topics such as substance abuse, youth suicide and violence prevention. It also contained sections on the importance of GLBT-specific programs, stories by gay people and resources for assistance, including spotlight on Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays as a resource for parents and allies.
For more than six year the site was used as a resource by educators, health professionals, GLBT people and others, according to PFLAG’s Jean-Marie Navetta.
The GLBT content was eliminated in January, just 11 days after the right-wing Family Research Council (FRC) wrote a letter complaining about it. In a letter to its supporters, FRC claimed victory in the matter but later said it was upset that "HHS had become involved in promoting the unhealthy homosexual lifestyle in the first place."
"It is outrageous that an organization with a long track record of attack on the LGBT community has successfully pressured a government agency to stop providing preventative health care information to LGBT Americans," Baldwin said. "The website in question provides important health information to the LGBT community and their families, which is an entirely appropriate role for the Department of Health and Human Services to play. It is outrageous they would bow to homophobic pressure."
After obtaining signature from her colleagues in Congress, Baldwin’s letter will be presented to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt.
Navetta said this incident is just the latest example "of something that we’ve seen throughout this administration — disappearing and incorrect health information."
The administration has been criticized by health experts for distorting or ignoring health facts that fail to conform to its fundamentalist Christian worldview. AIDS groups have long blasted the administration for withholding federal funding from HIV-education programs that promote condom use. The administration also came under fire for changing information on a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to stress the failure rate of condoms while promoting sexual abstinence.
The administration has targeted women’s as well as GLBT health issues. At the National Cancer Institute website, the administration replaced studies that found no link between abortion and breast cancer with older, discredited studies that claimed such a link. "These examples have been very scattered and just now we’re beginning to string all of this together," Navetta said.