No LGBTQ category included in Census proposal for 2020 count

U.S. Postal Service mail carrier Thomas Russell holds a census form while working his route in 2010
U.S. Postal Service mail carrier Thomas Russell holds a census form while working his route in 2010. Jason E. Miczek AP
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30 March, 2017

The effort gained traction under the Obama administration, which had announced plans to collect LGBTQ data for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Census Bureau also did not respond to NPR.

Both state and national LGBT rights organizations sharply rebuked the recent revelation that the 2020 Census will not include questions related to gender identity or sexual orientation.

The actual report now submitted does not include either category. The U.S. Census issued a notice shortly afterward indicating the report was corrected because the initial appendix "inadvertently" included LGBT categories. However, the National LGBTQ Task Force reports that "a number of federal agencies" have "urged" the Census Bureau to add questions collecting data on LGBTQ citizens in order to improve law enforcement relations with the LGBTQ community and to draft legislation that would aid queer citizens.

The redaction ignited a firestorm among LGBT advocates, who had been pushing for the inclusion of LGBT questions in the more detailed annual American Community Survey, and denounced the redaction as an attack from the Trump administration.

"We carefully considered this thoughtful request and again worked with federal agencies and the OMB Interagency Working Group on Measuring Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to determine if there was a legislative mandate to collect this data", Thompson said.

Gay rights groups said not including the sexual orientation and gender identity subject in the Census and the American Community Survey would deny some government services to LGBTQ Americans.

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"Information from these surveys helps the government to enforce federal laws like the Violence Against Women Act and the Fair Housing Act and to determine how to allocate resources like housing supports and food stamps", Maury said in the statement. According to the Task Force, more than 100,000 LGBTQ people included the sticker on their 2010 census envelopes.

But gay rights advocates say it's more evidence that President Donald Trump is going back on a campaign promise to protect the gay community.

Questionnaires for the census and the American Community Survey have not asked for sexual orientation and gender identity before, although the bureau has collected information about same-sex couples based on answers to questions about a respondent's sex and relationship to other people in a household. The survey is meant to evaluate the effectiveness of programs funded by the Older Americans Act, such as services for home-delivered meals, homemaker services and the National Family Caregiver Support Program.

Conducted every ten years, the census provides crucial data influencing government programs.

That's an infuriating blow to be sure, and also not entirely all that surprising given the anti-LGBT slant of the current administration (the Vice President, after all, has always been a proponent of so-called religious freedom laws, according to The Advocate, which put the LGBTQ community at risk of legal discrimination).


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