Director of the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (HHS)Appointed: 5-25-2017
Who is Shannon Royce?
Shannon Royce has spent her career trying to undermine LGBTQ+ rights and abortion access. In the Trump-Pence administration, Royce was the key liaison between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and religious organizations. As head of the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, she was expected to make partnerships between HHS and religious groups that oppose same-sex marriage, abortion, and sexual and reproductive health and rights — groups that coulduse their connections with Royce to shape federal health care policy.
“We have such an amazing team at HHS that is absolutely a pro-life team across the spectrum.”
What Shannon Royce Controlled
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
HHS is charged with protecting the health of all Americans. The Trump-Pence administration slowly reshaped HHS to roll back reproductive rights and limit access to health care.
Background on Shannon Royce
Shannon Royce’s right-hand-man in the Trump-Pence administration was Scott Lloyd, the senior advisor at the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives. Lloyd’s former position in the administration was directing the Office of Refugee Resettlement, where he reshaped the office around his personal crusade to block young immigrant women from access to abortion.Tracking Trump: Scott Lloyd
Before joining the administration, Shannon Royce was chief of staff for the LGBTQ+ hate group Family Research Council (FRC). At FRC, she promoted harmful abstinence-only policies, worked against marriage equality, and led opposition against access to birth control and abortion.Rewire News
At the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, Royce secretly asked religious groups how HHS could help them get rid of health care policies that "interfere with their religious character." Her efforts threatened federal protections for access to health care across the board, especially abortion care and health care for transgender people.Newsweek
The Trump White House required every federal agency to have a religious outreach representative or team, like HHS had under Royce.Vox
In January 2020, agencies including HHS and USAID proposed rules that could make it easier for faith-based groups to receive taxpayer funding while promoting their religion and not sharing secular alternatives with patients. In December 2020, the Trump-Pence administration finalized this proposal. This change makes it more likely that taxpayer dollars could end up supporting culturally incompetent providers that deny services to marginalized communities — including LGBTQ+ people, women, and religious minorities. In turn, this policy could impact peoples' access to HIV and STI prevention programs, reproductive health services, youth homelessness services, and foster care and adoption services both domestically and abroad.Reuters
Royce promoted the harmful, discredited practice of “conversion therapy” — which targets LGBTQ+ people and falsely claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.AlterNet
Royce deliberately withheld 10,000 public comments in response to a request for information about HHS’s plan to roll back protections for abortion and transgender care — and posted just a few dozen of mostly anti-abortion, anti-trans comments supporting the plan.Politico
Royce is one of many people opposed to reproductive rights that the Trump-Pence administration appointed. Within HHS, that includes former HHS officials Charmaine Yoest and Teresa Manning (both of whom worked for FRC), as well as Valerie Huber and Roger Severino (who FRC named as "allies").Politico