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2020 Census Excludes LGBTQ Questions

LGBT activists are concerned about a U.S. Census Bureau decision to erase questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. (Tim Evanson/Wikimedia Commons)
LGBT activists are concerned about a U.S. Census Bureau decision to erase questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. (Tim Evanson/Wikimedia Commons)
April 3, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY – Some members of the LGBTQ community say they're feeling “erased” after questions on sexual orientation and gender identity were removed from a draft of the 2020 Census.

The U.S. Census Bureau says the original document was submitted in error, and corrected the document by excluding a category that would've helped survey LGBTQ Americans.

The category also is excluded from the American Community Survey, an ongoing survey from the Census Bureau.

"Choices like this decision to not include sexual orientation and gender identity questions on the American Community Survey or the Census, it just contributes to that stigma,” says Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project director for the National LGBTQ Task Force. “It makes us feel invisible."

No past census has surveyed members of the LGBTQ community. A question on "relationship to householder" does give the Census the ability to track same sex marriages, although Maury says this only provides information about a small sliver of the community.

Maury stresses inclusion in the survey is an important blueprint for government agencies when distributing resources to specific communities.

She cites one example of many as implementation of the Fair Housing Act and its nondiscrimination provision by HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"It needs to know how often LGBTQ folks are likely to be trying to access HUD programs and services, in order to have a better understanding of whether or not they should shift resources from one place to another," she explains.

Maury notes this is not an isolated incident. She says the Department of Health and Human Services and HUD also have removed questions on sexual orientation and gender identity from some of their surveys.

The National LGBTQ Task Force, along with the Human Rights Campaign and other organizations have submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Commerce, which includes the Census Bureau, to find out how the agency came to this decision.

Maury also wants Congress to look into the issue.

"We're hoping that our colleagues in the Congress will take us up on that request and hold an oversight hearing soon," she states.



Eric Galatas, Public News Service - UT