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LGBTQ Americans to Be Left Off 2020 Census?

Members of the LGBTQ community say they feel invisible by government standards, and want to be included in the next U.S. census. (Alan Light/wikimedia commons)
Members of the LGBTQ community say they feel invisible by government standards, and want to be included in the next U.S. census. (Alan Light/wikimedia commons)
April 6, 2017

LANSING, Mich. — Some members of the LGBTQ community say they're feeling "erased" after learning that proposed questions on sexual orientation and gender identity have been removed from a draft of the 2020 Census.

The U.S. Census Bureau said the original document was submitted in error and corrected the document by excluding a category that would have 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,” said Meghan Maury, criminal and economic justice project director at 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 said this only provides information about a small sliver of the community.

Inclusion in the survey is an important blueprint for government agencies when distributing resources to specific communities, Maury said. She cited as one example of many 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 said.

Several groups 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. She said it isn't an isolated incident - the Department of Health and Human Services and HUD also have recently removed questions on sexual orientation and gender identity from some of their surveys.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI