Although LGBT people are becoming more visible in society, federal data reveal little about the U.S. LGBT population and its needs.
In a first in U.S. history, the U.S. Census Bureau will explicitly count same-sex couples living together in the 2020 census.
Yet the 2020 census and most federal surveys don’t ask people to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity. That means there’s no official count of LGBT people in the country, and most government data sets cannot be used to assess the LGBT population at the national, state or local level. Such information would help policymakers, researchers and advocates understand the particular needs of this population and design effective policies and programs.
As a legal scholar who studies federal sexual orientation and gender identity data, I know that currently there are many unanswered questions about LGBT people’s employment, housing and family circumstances; their health and well-being; and the discrimination and disparities they face.
If the census and other federal surveys included sexual orientation and gender identity, we would know so much more.
What the 2020 census will capture
The decennial census is one of the nation’s most important data collections. It’s the constitutionally mandated official headcount of people living in the U.S. and is the principal way to determine political representation throughout the nation.
Although the census is collected only every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau regularly conducts numerous other surveys, including the American Community Survey and the Current Population Survey. The data from these and other federal surveys are often used in conjunction with decennial census data to influence law and policy. These data also determine the annual distribution of more than US$675 billion of federal funding.
In the past, demographers analyzing U.S. Census Bureau data had to use complicated and imperfect systems to estimate the number of cohabiting same-sex couples living in the U.S. The current estimate is that are 646,500 same-sex couples living together in the U.S.
The 2020 census will allow respondents to describe their relationship to members of their household using the categories “same-sex husband/wife/spouse” and “same-sex unmarried partner.” In the past, this was not the case.
The 2020 census will better count the number of married and unmarried same-sex couples living together. Respondents’ answers will provide a wealth of information about same-sex couples’ diversity, their children and living arrangements, employment rates and incomes.
Gaps in the data
By capturing distinct data only on same-sex couples living together, however, the 2020 census will tell us nothing about the entire LGBT population, including LGBT people who are single or bisexuals in different-sex relationships. Nor will it capture specific data on transgender youth and adults.
During the Obama administration, the Department of Justice and other federal agencies asked the U.S. Census Bureau to collect sexual orientation and gender identity information. However, the Trump administration withdrew these requests, against the objection of members of the U.S. Senate, LGBT rights groups, researchers and others.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s director stated in a blog post that “there’s no federal data need” nor any statutory requirement to collect sexual orientation and gender identity data.
It’s true that Congress has failed to pass legislation that would require the census to add sexual orientation and gender identity questions. However, as the U.S. Census Bureau has acknowledged, various questions are included on the decennial census or other surveys because “the data are needed for program planning, implementation or evaluation” even though “there is no explicit mandate or requirement.” Moreover, the Department of Justice and other agencies’ requests to the U.S. Census Bureau clearly articulated the federal need for this data.
Only a few federal surveys currently capture information about sexual orientation and gender identity. That suggests that such items could easily be added to the census and other federal surveys that ask about people’s demographics.
Beyond the decennial census, the Trump administration has rolled backsexual orientation and gender identity data collection in other federal surveys.
Why it matters
Businesses, government agencies, journalists, researchers and others use U.S. Census Bureau data to understand the socioeconomic characteristics of the nation. Without an accurate count, many public and private programs and services may not effectively reach vulnerable LGBT populations.
Moreover, there are federal laws and programs in place designed to increase access to employment, housing, health care and other services. But without inclusive data, policymakers, social service providers and others can’t know if these activities meet the needs of LGBT people and help them thrive. Without this information, stereotypes and myths may drive policies that impact LGBT people.
For example, despite the popular stereotype of LGBT affluence, studies suggest that some LGBT people are more likely than their non-LGBT counterparts to be in poverty. Also, despite the belief that marriage equality would result in full societal acceptance, many LGBT people throughout the nation continue to face persistent and pervasive discrimination.
Existing data show that the LGBT population is remarkably diverse and that the experiences of LGBT people are shaped by many factors, including race, age, socioeconomic status and education level. But existing data are not enough. The U.S. Census Bureau’s failure to ask sexual orientation and gender identity questions makes it hard to know much about the intersections between LGBT status and other characteristics.
In my view, if policymakers want to truly understand and attempt to meet the diverse needs of LGBT people, then more inclusive data ought to be collected. And the U.S. Census Bureau – with its vast surveys, strict confidentiality and expertise – is the ideal agency to lead the way.
Read more at: The Gaily Grind.
Tags: #BigBankChallenge #BohemianKissChallenge #EqualityActJapan #StopAsianHate 2020 Olympics Aaron Schock Adam Castillejo Adam Rippon addiction ageism Aging AhTave AIDS Aime Wichtendal Alaska Alex Morse Almost Love America's Next Top Model American Medical Association Amy Coney Barrett Annise Parker Antes Que El Mundo Se Acabe Anti-Asian Violence Anti-LGBTQ ANTM anxiety Aptima HIV-1 Arizona Armie Hammer astrology At-home date Atlanta Atlanta Black Pride Atlanta Nightlife Atlanta Pride Atlanta Pride Run Austin Swink Austin Texas Backpacks for the Street Basel Abou Hamrah BFI Flare Bisexual BLACK GAY MEN Black LGBTQ Atlanta Black Lives Matter Black Love Bohemian Rhapsody Boston Boston MA Brian Sims Broadway bully Bullying California Call Me By Your Name Canada Capital Pride Capitalism Cason Crane Celebrity News censorship Chemistry Chemsex Chicago Chicago IL Chris Evans Christian proselytizing Christianity Christmas Christmas movie Christmas Movies Chucky Circus of Books civil unions Cody McCook Colorado Comedy coming out commentary compatibility Confidence Congress conspiracy theory Conversion therapy CoronaVirus COVID COVID-19 Covid-19 vaccine daddy Dallas Dallas Gay Bars Dallas Gayborhood Dallas Texas Danica Roem Daniel Harding Daniel Howell Date night dating Dating Apps dating rut dating tips DC Pride Dead to Me Denver Depression discrimination Disney Documentary Dolf Pasker Dolly Parton Domestic Violence Donald Trump Donna Price Drag Race drag racing Dustin Lance Black election Election 2020 Election Day Elite Employment Entertainment Entertainment news epidemic Fabio Fasoli Family family gatherings Film Finding True Love First Date First Date Etiquette first date ideas first date tips Flirting Tips Flirty Dancing Florida Fort Lauderdale Franklin Graham Freddie Mercury Garrett Clayton gay gay asian gay asian men Gay Atlanta Gay beaches Gay Boston Gay Chicago Gay Couple Gay Couples Gay Culture Gay Dallas Gay Dallas Nightlife gay dating gay dating advice gay dating app gay dating apps Gay Dating Solutions Gay Dating Tips gay discrimination gay film Gay Florida Gay Fort Lauderdale Gay Health Gay Holiday Movie Gay Houston gay kiss Gay Love Advice gay marriage gay marriage proposal gay men Gay Miami gay midlife Gay Mountaineer Gay Movies Gay New York Gay Nurse Gay Panic Gay Pride gay relationship advice gay relationship tips gay relationships Gay Scene gay seniors gay sex gay singles Gay Soldier Gay Travel Gay Twitter Gay Wedding gay weddings Gay Widower Gays Over COVID gaysian Gen Z Generation Z Georgia Gert Kasteel Ghosting GLAAD GOP Gorsuch Guy Vandenberg Gym Gays Haaz Sleiman Hallmark Halloween Hate Crime Health HGVT HIV HIV prevention HIV stigma HIV treatment HIV vaccine HIV/AIDS hobbies Holi-date Holiday Film Holiday Movies Holidays Hollywood Holyoke Homophobia hooking up hookup hookup culture Hot Vax Summer House Hunters Houston Texas Houston TX Hulu Ian Jordan Indya Moore Instagay Instagram intersex Intimacy Iowa Iowa caucus isolation It's A Sin Jake Gyllenhaal James Bushe Japan Jaymes Vaughan Jayson Conner Jeffrey Newman Jennifer Tilly Jewish Jewish persecution Joe Biden Jonathan Bennett Josef Salvat Jussi-Pekka Kajaala Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg JVN Jwan Yosef Karamo Brown Kristine Stolakis Lady Gaga Lesbian lesbian couple Let It Snow LGBT LGBT Travel Guide LGBT-Free Zones LGBTQ LGBTQ Asians LGBTQ Atlanta LGBTQ Boston LGBTQ Chicago LGBTQ Dallas LGBTQ discrimination LGBTQ employees LGBTQ Family LGBTQ Film LGBTQ Film Festival LGBTQ Films LGBTQ flag LGBTQ Fort Lauderdale LGBTQ Health LGBTQ Houston LGBTQ Miami LGBTQ movies LGBTQ New York LGBTQ NYC LGBTQ Pride LGBTQ retirees LGBTQ retirement LGBTQ Rights LGBTQ Seniors LGBTQ Victory Institute LGBTQ Youth Life Lifetime Lifetime TV Network Linda Warren lockdown London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival loneliness Love Victor Luke Evans Male Nurse Malik Brown marriage equality marriage proposal Marsha P Johnson Marvel Marvin Cortes Massachusetts mature gay dating mental health Mexico Miami Miami Beach Miami Beach Pride Miami Florida Michael Cashman Michael Henry Middle-aged gay men midlife Modern Family mormon Mr. Right Muscle gays music video My Gay Match NASCAR National Coming Out Day Nationwide Conversion Therapy Ban Neil Gorsuch Netflix Netflix Special Nevada New Year's Resolution New York New York City Nonbinary North Dakota Northern Ute tribe Nurse Appreciation Week NYC NYC Events NYC Pride NYC Pride 2021 Oak Lawn Obergefell v. Hodges older gay man Omander Omar Ayuso One True Pairing online dating online dating apps online dating tips online gay dating Online trolls Open Relationship Operation Hyacinth OTP Outfest Outfest LA 2021 Outfest Los Angeles Pan-African Pride pandemic Paper Moons Pat Robertson Pennsylvania Perez Hilton personality personality type Pete Buttigieg Pink Capitalism Poland Politics polyamorous polyamorous relationship polyamorous relationships Pope Francis Pose power bottom Pray Away PrEP pride Pride 2021 Pride Afrique Pride Flag Pride Month Prince Harry profile pic Puerto Vallarta quarantine Queer eye Queer Film Queer Films Queer Holiday Movies Queer Lawmakers Queer Love Story Queer Santa Queer Youth racism Rafa Olarra Rainbow Wave Reddit Relationship relationship advice Relationship Tips relationships religion Rep. Andy Biggs Republican retirement Ricky Martin rom-com Romantic Comedy Ryan Murphy Ryan O’Connell Samaritan’s Purse same sex marriage Same Sex Relationships Same Sex Wedding Same-Sex Couples Same-Sex Kiss same-sex marriage ban Schitt’s Creek Score Miami Score Nightclub Scott Evans Scott Wiener Section 28 self isolation self-care Senior Gay Dating Senior Gay Men senior gays Senior Prom Seven Summits sex Sex Education sex life sexual identity sexual preference sexual racism sexuality short film Shy Gay Guys Single All the Way single gay man Single Gay Men Single Gays Single Young Gays social distancing social isolation social media Social Security Somerville sports Stonewall Stonewall Riots straight men Super Bowl ads Super Bowl commercials Super Bowl LIV Supreme Court Switzerland Syfy Syria Tan France Television Tennessee The Boys in the Band The Center on Colfax The Christmas Setup The Eternals The First The Thing About Harry Threesome throuple TikTok Tom Daley toxic masculinity Transgender Travel Travis Shumake true love Trump administration Turner Free TV series Tweets Twitter Unconditional Love United Methodist Church US economy US Supreme Court Valentine's day viral video Virginia Washington DC Web Series Wedding Workplace workplace discrimination World AIDS Day World Pride young gay men Youth YouTube