The LGBT Census: Why being counted matters
Last month, an LGBT group warned that the Trump Administration was intent on erasing the community with the removal of the LGBT census.
Though there have been some denials that this was not the case (and some fact-checking along the way), the issue is still important to consider given the growing LGBT population in the US.
The “removal” of the LGBT census
The National LGBTQ Task Force reported on the plan by the Trump Administration to exclude LGBT people on the list of “planned subjects” for the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS).
Categories on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” were actually included in the proposed subjects (as noted in the appendix), indicating that these could have been in the earlier version of the list.
In the previous year, federal agencies had called on the Census Bureau to collect data on the said subjects.
“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,” said Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director, National LGBTQ Task Force.
“If the government doesn’t know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need?” Maury added.
This report immediately drew a barrage of criticism, with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) leading 86 members of Congress to send a bicameral letter to the US Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) expressing their disapproval.
In their letter, they said: “We write to express our strong disapproval of the Census Bureau’s decision to not include consideration of data collection on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in the 2020 Census and American Community Survey.”
The facts about the LGBT census
However, some have pointed out the wrong facts surrounding the issue of the LGBT census, with the fact-checking site Snopes even posting about it.
“Many articles about controversy pertaining to LGBT households and the 2020 Census suggested President Trump or his administration had elided or removed LGBT-related questions from the census, but such questions were not there in the first place, and we found no information indicating that the executive branch was exerting influence over U.S. Census operations.,” the Snopes website noted.
In other words, the US Census may have considered the idea of including the categories in their survey but they didn’t push through with it.
So why is an LGBT census important? A recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute noted that “7 percent of millennials identify as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender” and this is growing per generation.
Laura Durso, senior director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress told The Daily Beast: “The federal government is in a position to ask thousands of people important questions about their lives and we really need that data to more fully understand the diversity within the LGBT community.”
“When we can’t say things about who LGBT people are and what they need, we’re unable to develop public policies that serve them appropriately,” Durso added.
More importantly, having the LGBT census means the government recognizes the presence of the LGBT community.
“It is meaningful that the federal government steps up and says [that] we recognize the LGBT community as a community, and as a community with needs, resiliences, and contributions,” Durso said.