Grijalva Unites Lawmakers, Advocates and Icon in Push for LGBT Data
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) today led a press conference uniting lawmakers, advocates and a prominent pop culture icon behind the cause of ensuring the LGBT community is counted in our society by requiring federal surveys to include voluntary questions about gender identity and sexual orientation.
Actress and advocate Laverne Cox, Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), as well as LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Transgender Equality Task Force Chair Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), all called for action on the HR 5373, the LGBT Data Inclusion Act, which Grijalva introduced on May 27th.
“While the transgender community is becoming increasingly visible in society, the Census and federal surveys continue to disregard our existence, and if you’re not counted, you don’t count,” said actress and LGBT advocate Laverne Cox.
“To go uncounted in our society is to be unseen in the eyes of legislators and policy makers,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Anti-LGBT measures are successful because conservatives don’t consider the LGBT community a part of their constituency. The LGBT Data Inclusion Act will solidify the LGBT community a constituency they represent. It would also allow us to finally begin addressing challenges like poverty, homelessness and unemployment that impact this community disproportionately.
“I am proud to see such broad support for this important issue. I thank Laverne Cox for making the trip to Capitol Hill today, and Senator Baldwin for sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate. And I thank my Congressional colleagues for joining me in this important fight to ensure each and every one of us is counted and policies affecting the LGBT community are fact-based.”
Lawmakers announced at the press conference that Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) will be introducing a companion to in the Senate.
“In order for our government to better understand and address the needs of the LGBT community, people need to have an opportunity to be counted,” Senator Baldwin said. “I’m proud to lead the LGBT Data Inclusion Act in the Senate. By requiring federal surveys to include voluntary questions about gender identity and sexual orientation, we can better serve LGBT citizens and their families. When everyone is counted we send an important message that everyone counts in America.”
While some federal data on the LGBT community is currently collected, there is no centralized requirement in law ensuring that federal data collection on the LGBT community be a priority. Ms. Cox has spoken eloquently about the need for this information, which is key to understanding demographic, socioeconomic and geographic trends within the LGBT community.
“The LGBT Data Inclusion Act is an important piece of legislation that will make certain that all Americans are equally counted in federal surveys,” Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer said. “Ensuring that everyone is counted is the first step in making sure everyone counts. When people or groups aren’t counted, they run the risk of losing equal access to federal resources and assistance when it is needed. For too long, LGBT individuals, families, and communities have been forced to live in the shadows of society. This LGBT Pride Month, it’s time to end that once and for all. I applaud Rep. Grijalva and the LGBT Equality Caucus for leading this charge.”
“Discrimination has no place in our country. To ensure that we end discrimination, it is critical that all federal agencies collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity to guarantee our policies support equal opportunity for all Americans,” said Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (CA-34). “The LGBT Data Inclusion Act accomplishes that goal and it’s an important step in this ongoing fight for equality.”
“Crafting good policy requires good data, and this bill will ensure Members of Congress and federal agencies have the information we need to ensure our LGBT brothers and sisters get the support they need and the representation they deserve,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. “As someone who lived through the AIDS crisis, I’ve seen firsthand the effects of allowing a blind spot to exist in federal data collection efforts and I want to thank Congressman Grijalva for his efforts to close the gap.”
“LGBT people often face disadvantages from hateful stereotypes and deeply misguided notions about who they are,” Rep. Honda said. “The LGBT Data Inclusion Act will bring much-needed facts to the national discussion we’re having on LGB and transgender people. In a time when House Republicans have an unhealthy obsession with transgender people, this bill sends one clear message: stop talking and listen.”
“We know that LGBT Americans have been marginalized for decades, and when it comes to their representation in federal data, it’s no different,” Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman said. “Our current failure to collect data about gender identity and sexual orientation keeps us from creating effective policies to solve the countless problems this community faces, and even worse, it keeps these Americans hidden in the shadows. The LGBT Data Inclusion Act will allow us to see these individuals, and give us a clearer understanding of their needs. It’s a bill I’m proud to support, and urge my colleagues to pass.”
The bipartisan legislation now has 80 cosponsors. It has been endorsed by the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and 23 prominent civil rights groups.
Leading experts from the Center for American Progress, the Williams Institute, and the National Center for Transgender Equality also joined the press conference to discuss the positive impact that the LGBT Data Inclusion Act would have.
“Despite historic advancements in equality, the picture of who LGBT people are and what we need to live healthy and secure lives remains vastly incomplete,” Dr. Laura E. Durso, Senior Director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress said. “The LGBT Data Inclusion Act of 2016 represents a new wave of LGBT equality legislation, a push for not just legal equality, but also true lived equality. In a nation as large and diverse as the United States, understanding the varied needs and experiences of the American public remains necessary to crafting policy solutions that leave no one behind. LGBT people remain disproportionately likely to live in poverty, experience homelessness, and be unemployed, and while there may not be a silver bullet to solving these problems, in order to find answers, we must begin asking questions.”
“This legislation will help ensure that policymakers have the fullest information about LGBT people possible and can make decisions based on data and evidence rather than myths and assumptions,” Adam Romero, Senior Counsel and Arnold D. Kassoy Scholar of Law at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law said. “By adding measures of sexual orientation and gender identity to federal surveys, we will gain crucial information about the LGBT population and all its diversity.”
“Good policy is a tapestry of stories stitched together by the threads of sound data,” PFLAG National Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby said. “PFLAG will always be able to share the experiences of our families but need the data that the LGBT Data Inclusion Act will provide; this is why we support the introduction and passage of the LGBT Data Inclusion Act. Thank you to Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) for his leadership. We are proud to stand with him and other congressional supporters including ?Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra, LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, and Congressman Mike Honda to advocate for passage of this important federal legislation.”
“While transgender people are more visible in society than ever before and the subject of major national discussions, the major health, economic, and other national surveys that help shape public policy still tell us nothing about transgender people’s lives and the challenges they face,” National Center for Transgender Equality Policy Director Harper Jean Tobin, Esquire said. “Transgender people of all ages and backgrounds are part of our society and that should be reflected in the data we collect. This is a critical gap that can and should be corrected.”