The Trump administration submitted a report to Congress yesterday that may trouble members of the LGBTQ community.
This morning, the list of types of data the administration plans to collect for the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS) included “sexual orientation and gender identity” as new additions, according to The Washington Times. However, the Census released an updated list hours later that didn’t include the sexual orientation addition.
A representative from the bureau told the Times members of Congress requested the questions be added, but later decided there isn’t a “federal need” for the data.
“The Subjects Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey report released today inadvertently listed sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic in the appendix. This topic is not being proposed to Congress for the 2020 Census or American Community Survey,” the bureau said in a statement provided by the Times.
Why is this so troubling? Lawmakers and activists say that having detailed data on the LGBTQ community would help them create laws that improve the lives of the community.
One example is poverty. The LGBTQ community is more likely to struggle with economic hardships, according to The Advocate. The Williams Institute, an LGBT research organization based at the UCLA School of Law, compiled as many national surveys as it could find to estimate of the LGBT poverty rate. However, the Census Bureau could find out these figures and help shape the public debate.
“When we can’t say things about who LGBT people are and what they need, we’re unable to develop public policies that serve them appropriately,” senior director at the Center for American Progress Laura Durso told The Daily Beast. “It really kills me that we’re having these consequential policy debates and I can’t put a number on how many people are affected.”
Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Meghan Maury said in a statement that the Trump administration’s removal of the questions “deny LGBTQ people freedom, justice, and equity.”
“Information from these surveys helps the government to enforce federal laws like the Violence Against Women Act and the Fair Housing Act and to determine how to allocate resources like housing supports and food stamps,” Maury said. “If the government doesn’t know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need?”
Although this recent development is troubling, we do have some data for the LGBTQ community. A large-scale U.S. government survey to measure sexual orientation was released in 2014, as The Washington Post reported. Additionally, the Census began collecting information on cohabiting same-sex couples in 1999. In 2013, it started counting same-sex spouses as family units.
But it is worth mentioning that Vice President Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Act into law in Indiana, which many experts claimed denied rights to the LGBTQ community. Trump's Supreme Court pick Judge Neil Gorsuch also stated that he opposed same-sex marriage in his Oxford University dissertation. All of these suggest the administration isn’t going to extend a helping hand to the community.