The U.S. Census Bureau has agreed to keep a question about sexual orientation from the upcoming Census Barriers, Attitudes and Motivators Study (CBAMS).
On Tuesday, census staff reported they were told to remove the sexual orientation question before CBAMS was finalized today. The study will gauge public understanding, attitudes and behavior regarding the 2020 Census, and a proposed version had included a question about the recipient’s sexual orientation question.
Activists claimed removing the question only further erased representation of the LGBT community in America.
“This survey helps the Census Bureau understand how best to reach communities that are historically undercounted. The Census drives federal funding and the allocation of seats in Congress,” said Meghan Maury, policy director for the National LGBTQ Task Force. “Not counting LGBTQ people means less money for social programs and less democratic representation, and that’s just not fair.”
Representation in Census surveys means a better allocation of resources for things like LGBT health initiatives, anti-bullying campaigns, and shelters for queer homeless youth, and would underscore the importance of equality and inclusion nationwide.
Earlier this year Laverne Cox joined members of Congress in promoting the LGBT Data Inclusion Act, which would require the U.S. census and other federal surveys to ask voluntary questions about sexual orientation and gender identity, along with the usual queries about race, age, income and the like.
“If you’re not on paper, you’re invisible when it comes to the federal government,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA).
In March, the White House removed “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from the proposed 2020 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS), calling their inclusion “inadvertent.”
After protest over the most recent incident, though the bureau relented and the question remains.
“The U.S. Census Bureau continues to research and plan communications and outreach strategies to maximize response and participation in the 2020 Census,” it said in a statement. “Similar to preparations for the 2010 Census, we will again conduct the Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators (CBAMS) Survey designed to better understand the mindsets related to census participation across demographics subgroups, including the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) population.”
It added, “Given the sample size of the CBAMS, the expected response rate, and the percentage of the U.S. population that is LGB, we would expect the survey to yield a sufficient amount of data upon which to make statistical inferences.”
Task Force director Rea Carey credited pressure on the Trump Administration for the reversal.
“Data about the LGBTQ community is absolutely crucial to ensuring that we are distributed the resources we need, that we are represented, and that the most vulnerable in our community are protected.”