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2020 Census To Include Gender and Sexual Orientation Questions

Advocates push for gender and sexual orientation questions for 2020 Census


2020 census


David Stacy has heard the stories of older same-sex couples who face discrimination in assisted-living facilities because some “workers are less tolerant” toward them – but he can’t point to data outlining the problem.

“We know these problems exist but don’t know how to gather evidence,” said Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign.

That is why LGBTQ advocates were briefly elated at the prospect that the Census Bureau would ask people for information on their sexual orientation or gender identity on the 2020 Census form – and bitterly disappointed when the bureau announced this spring that it would not collect that data.

“This limits information and data about the LGBTQ community,” said Glen Spencer, the executive director of Aunt Rita’s Foundation, a Phoenix-based group that provides assistance to people who are HIV-positive.

“The Census can help assess the experience of LGBTQ individuals where they live and work,” said Spencer, but only if the agency collects the data.

The bureau’s decision followed a year deliberation with the Office of Management and Budget and other federal agencies, after a hiccup in an appendix of the American Community Survey last year indicated that the information on lesbian, gay and transgender individuals would be collected.

Bureau Director John H. Thompson – who unexpectedly announced his retirement this week, reportedly over budget concerns – said federal officials looked “to determine if there was a legislative mandate” to collect data on people’s sexual orientation or gender identity – but determined that there was no such directive.

Census Bureau Director John Thompson said the bureau would not include questions on gender identity and sexual orientation in the 2020 Census as some advocates had hoped.

“The Census Bureau remains committed to reflecting the information needs of our changing society,” Thompson said in a blog post on the controversy, but said that would not include data on gender identity or sexual orientation.

Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, said he was “deeply troubled” by the bureau’s failure to see the relevance of the questions.

“LGBT Americans continue to face discrimination in facets of everyday life such as in employment, housing, and even in the justice system,” Grijalva said. “Expanded data collection on LGBT people is needed to help policymakers and community stakeholders understand the full extent of these disparities. ”

Grijalva said he will re-introduce the LGBT Data Inclusion Act, to include sexual orientation and gender identity on all federal forms, as a result of the Census Bureau’s decision about the 2020 census form.

The congressman also stressed that his bill will include protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.


2020 census

By excluding the questions, advocates said, the administration is marginalizing the issues faced by LGBTQ individuals.

“I don’t think it was a smart decision to remove the sexual orientation questions,” Spencer said.

“The question of sexual identity and orientation is relevant for statistics and recognition of things affecting the LGBTQ community,” he said.

That was echoed by Stacy, who said the government needs “to ask the questions to find the solutions.


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