Trump Administration Omits LGBTQ People from 2020 Census and American Community Survey

Today, the Trump Administration submitted to Congress a report of the list of categories of data it plans to collect for the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS). In this morning’s version of the Administration’s report, while it conspicuously excluded lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) people on the list of “planned subjects” for the nation’s decennial census and longer form survey, “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” were included as “proposed” subjects in the appendix—indicating that data collection on these categories may have been in the works in an earlier version. Last year, a number of federal agencies urged the Census Bureau to collect sexual orientation and gender identity data, explaining that the information was critical to their ability to implement  and enforce the law.

“Today, the Trump Administration has taken yet another step  to deny LGBTQ people freedom, justice, and equity, by choosing to exclude us from the 2020 Census and American Community Survey. LGBTQ people are not counted on the Census—no data is collected on sexual orientation or gender identity. 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. 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?” said Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director, National LGBTQ Task Force.

This decision is part of a string of actions by the Trump Administration to remove sexual orientation and gender identity questions from federal surveys  and to stall assessment of programs targeting the LGBTQ community. The Census does collect data on same-sex couples through its “relationship to householder” question; this results in a very narrow depiction of the needs and experiences of our community.

“We call on President Trump and his Administration to begin collecting sexual orientation and gender identity data on the American Community Survey as soon as possible and urge Congress to conduct oversight hearings to reveal why the Administration made the last-minute decision not to collect data on LGBTQ people,” said Maury.

For over a decade, the National LGBTQ Task Force has been at the forefront of national data collection advocacy efforts by urging the President, Congress, and the Census Bureau to collect data that accurately reflects the country’s population of LGBTQ people. In 2010, the National LGBTQ Task Force launched the “Queer the Census” campaign calling on LGBTQ people to urge the Census Bureau to count them in the 2010 Census. More than 100,000 LGBTQ people  placed a “Queer the Census” sticker on their 2010 Census envelops, asking the federal agency to count them and collect data on LGBTQ people. Since 2014, Maury has served on the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations, where she provides advice to the Census Bureau on this and various other data collection issues.