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Groups Launch Campaign to Increase LGBTQ Participation in Census

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Advocates are spreading the word about the census at LGBTQ events around the state. (Beatriz Valenzuela)
Advocates are spreading the word about the census at LGBTQ events around the state. (Beatriz Valenzuela)
January 23, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- LGBTQ groups launched a $1 million campaign on Wednesday to encourage everyone to participate in the 2020 census.

California's 1.3 million strong LGBTQ population is the largest in the country, and traditionally has been hard to count.

Beatriz Valenzuela, communications manager for the group Equality California, says a sizable number are part of other undercounted groups -- such as immigrants, people of color, renters or those experiencing homelessness.

"It's imperative that every single person gets counted," Valenzuela stresses. "And it's easy. It's only 10 questions. It takes probably less than 10 minutes. And you're able to do it online, by mail, on phone, or at one of the kiosks."

The campaign includes ads on Facebook and on the dating app Grindr, and will place census assistance kiosks in LGBTQ gathering spots in 10 cities across the state.

In March, the Census Bureau will start mailing out cards that assign each person a unique code that will allow people to log onto and fill it out online, or just fill out the paper forms and mail them.

For each person who fails to fill out the census, California stands to lose $2,000 in federal funding every year for 10 years.

Valenzuela says that would shortchange programs such as food stamps and Medi-Cal -- programs that are used by one in five LGBTQ families.

"Having that accurate information gives government agencies the data that they need to give programs the right funding -- to give us the right representation in government and essentially to have our voices heard," Valenzuela explains.

The Trump administration refused to put a question on the census about sexual orientation and gender identity, but there is a section that allows LGBTQ couples to identify either as spouses or unmarried partners.

Disclosure: Equality California contributes to our fund for reporting on Census, Health Issues, HIV/AIDS Prevention, LGBTQIA Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA