The 2020 U.S. Census will ask couples living in the same household to define their relationship as “same-sex” or “opposite-sex.”
The question is the Census Bureau’s first major attempt to count the number of gays and lesbians living in the United States.
According to a March 29 report, data about relationships is used in “planning and funding government programs that provide funds or services for families,” as well as to understand changing households.
There are still no questions pertaining directly to gender identity or sexual orientation, so transgender people and single gay, lesbian, and bi Americans won’t be counted. The Bureau had considered questions about sexual orientation, but they were nixed from the most recent draft, reigniting the debate about LGBT inclusion in the survey.
“This survey helps the Census Bureau understand how best to reach communities that are historically undercounted,” Meghan Maury, policy director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, said in a statement. “Not counting LGBT people means less money for social programs and less democratic representation, and that’s just not fair.”
Cecilia Chung of the Transgender Law Center hopes the Census Bureau will expand its survey to include more inclusive questions.
“These are all labels,” she told NPR “But if we don’t have the proper labels when we try to look at the picture, there will be a lot of missing pieces, like jigsaw puzzles.”
The Census Bureau also plans to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 questionnaire, drawing ire from activists who worry it could prevent millions of immigrants from filling out their forms and therefore skew the results.