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April 27th, 2016
Rep. Grijalva, Sen. Baldwin Lead Bipartisan Effort to Add LGBT Data to Census Survey

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) today led 70 members of the House of Representatives and 9 Senators in sending a bicameral, bipartisan letter to U.S. Census Bureau Director John Thompson urging for questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity to be included on the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is the key, ongoing, federally supported survey sent to roughly 3.5 million addresses every year to gather critical information about the United States as a nation and the people who call America home. While data is collected about respondents’ race, ethnicity, sex, marital status, and other personal demographic information, no measure is taken of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The letter reads, in part:

The current lack of population-based data on the LGBT community inhibits the creation of sound public policy as well as the delivery of effective programs and services to all Americans. Expanding and improving data collection and analysis about LGBT people is essential to better understanding the issues affecting our communities and to improve the health and well-being of all of our families.

[E]nsuring full inclusion of the LGBT population in our nation’s data collection efforts is indispensable to addressing the discrimination against, and the general economic and social vulnerability facing LGBT Americans.

“The ACS plays a vital role in informing policymakers and the public at large about demographic trends within our populace,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Our lack of sound data about the LGBT community means we are ill-prepared to detect and address threats facing LGBT individuals and the community at large. The Census Bureau has been a leader in addressing the needs of the LGBT community by improving the way relationship status is assessed and how the notion of a family is configured. We are asking Director Thompson to build on that success, and ensure the same vital information the ACS provides based on race, ethnicity, marital status and a host of other categories is also available based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“It is essential that the American Community Survey gathers more comprehensive information so we can better understand and address the needs of the LGBT community. I am encouraged by the Census Bureau’s progress in recognizing the needs of the LGBT community to date and insist on continued improvement by including questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in the ACS,” Senator Baldwin said. “It’s critical that we fully understand the challenges facing different populations.  However, for the LGBT community, there simply is not the robust information that we need in a host of different areas. For example, although there is ample anecdotal evidence of health disparities facing LGBT people, we need valid research data to allow us to make further progress toward improving the health of LGBT Americans and their families.”

The full text of the letter is available here.


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