Trump nixes sexual-orientation questions on 2020 Census

  • Trump nixes sexual-orientation questions on 2020 Census

Trump nixes sexual-orientation questions on 2020 Census

But using the decennial US census to gather data about LGBTQ people in the USA could offer vital information and help ensure LGBTQ Americans get the services they need. After the revised list went out though, the Census Bureau said there was no "federal need" for that data to be included in the survey. So there was a mix of excitement and confusion Tuesday when a single line buried at the end of an obscure report seemed to suggest that the Census Bureau planned to begin asking about sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time.

A bill co-sponsored by Tim Eustace, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Mila M. Jasey would require voluntary, self-disclosed information about sexual orientation and gender identity in certain state surveys. The possible topics of those questions were released on Tuesday as part of the run-up to the 2020 Census, the national head count of every resident in the USA required by the Constitution every 10 years.

"They're read by many people in our community as saying affirmatively that we don't count, that we don't matter", Maury said. "The subjects represent the necessary balance between the need for data and the Census Bureau's commitment to reduce the time it takes to complete the form".

No past Census has included questions that would identify members of the LGBTQ community specifically.

In the context of sexual orientation and gender identity, omitting an LGBTQ category from the census means that, even as politicians debate LGBTQ rights, they don't have a clear idea of how many LGBTQ Americans there are.

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of the LGBTQ rights group GLAAD, said: "By erasing LGBTQ Americans from the 2020 US Census, the Trump Administration is adding a disgusting entry to a long list of tactics they've adopted to legally deny services and legitimacy to hard-working LGBTQ Americans".

Still, Maury says she's not convinced that the appearance of "sexual orientation and gender identity" in Tuesday's report was just a typo. "Decisions like this really contribute to that feeling that we're invisible".

Census CIO Kevin Smith said that the bureau is now running its new tech for business processes and is working with cloud operations on Amazon Web Services.

The Census Bureau has provided Congress with a list of questions it plans to ask Americans in the upcoming 2020 Census survey. The administration has already taken steps to remove questions about sexual orientation from two lower-profile government surveys. Without data on orientation or sexuality, LGBT groups can't do the same. Maury also wants Congress to look into the issue.

Some activists said the move was an attempt to "erase" the community.

"I think that would set up a huge partisan argument, and the Census would be stuck in the middle of that", says Prewitt, who now teaches at Columbia University's School of global and Public Affairs.