Congress Urges Questions on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Added to American Community Survey

Jordan Dashow

Yesterday, Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a bipartisan letter to U.S. Census Bureau Director John Thompson requesting that the Census Bureau include questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity on the American Community Survey (ACS). An additional 70 Representatives and nine Senators signed the letter.

The ACS is an ongoing survey of roughly 3.5 million people that provides important information on people living in the U.S. The survey plays a key role in determining how more than $400 billion federal and state funds are distributed. Currently, the ACS collects information about respondents’ race, ethnicity, sex, marital status and other demographic information, but fails to collect information on sexual orientation or gender identity. The lack of data on the LGBT population is a significant barrier to improving services and programs that impact the LGBT community and addressing the LGBT populations’ unique challenges.

HRC has long advocated for better data collection regarding the LGBT population. Several U.S. agencies have already taken steps to do so including the Department of Education, which has added sexual orientation and gender identity questions to the 2016 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS); the Department of Health and Human Services, which added sexual orientation and gender identity data collection to its requirements for Electronic Health Records (EHRs) certified under the Meaningful Use program; and the FBI, which collects statistics on hate crimes committed based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other characteristics, in its annual Hate Crimes Statistics reports.

HRC applauds Congressman Grijalva and Senator Baldwin’s letter and calls on the Census Bureau to add questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity on the ACS.

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