A Census Bureau report sent to Congress reveals that questions on sexual orientation and gender identity will not be included in the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census, prompting outrage from the LGBTQ community.
According to a report from the National LGBTQ Task Force, the Census Bureau originally reported on Tuesday morning that they would include questions on “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” in both the 2020 Census as well as the American Community Survey. Now, those questions have been stripped from both. According to the Washington Blade, the U.S. Census Bureau said in an official statement that the questions were added in “inadvertently” to the original draft.
“The Subjects Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey report released today inadvertently listed sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic in the appendix,” the bureau stated, according to the Blade. “The report has been corrected.”
The U.S. Census, which is held every 10 years, has never explicitly collected data on LGBTQ citizens: just same-sex households in the country. 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. A U.S. Census with questions on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people would also confirm how many LGBTQ Americans currently live in the country, giving both federal and local governments an accurate picture of LGBTQ life in the United States.
The National LGBTQ Task Force sharply criticized the Trump administration’s actions, encouraging Congress to “conduct oversight hearings to reveal why the administration made the last-minute decision not to collect data on LGBTQ people.”
“Today, the Trump administration has taken yet another step to deny LGBTQ people freedom, justice, and equity, by choosing to exclude us from the 2020 Census and American Community Survey,” the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Criminal and Economic Justice project director, Meghan Maury, said in an official statement. “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. 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?”
This isn’t the first time that the Trump administration has stripped LGBTQ questions from a national survey. Earlier, the Department of Health and Human Services cut survey questions about sexual orientation and gender identity from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants, after questions pertaining to the LGBTQ community were added in 2014. The HHS’s decision was a major concern to many LGBTQ activists, in part because the survey is traditionally used in federal funding geared toward senior citizens. With original surveys reporting that approximately 3 million LGBTQ senior citizens live in the United States, data about LGBTQ elders will be lost for several years unless the administration implements the questions again.