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President Donald Trump is back to breaking his promises to the queer community. Today his administration submitted the list of data categories the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey would collect — and has dropped questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.
The report’s appendix proposed both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” be included, which implies the questions were deliberately cut rather than an oversight. As of now the census only collects info about same-sex households. Democrats in Congress have repeatedly pushed for more in-depth questions to improve census results.
The Census collects information on the demographics of America. With this data, legislators would — in theory — be able to pass laws that better serve their constituents. With accurate data about how many LGBTQ citizens are in the United States, legislators would be able to shape relevant bills to best serve the queer community.
In a statement, Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force said:
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?
This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has curtailed LGBTQ data collection. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services dropped LGBTQ-related questions from two critical surveys. Without that data, it’s impossible to tell whether or not programs are meeting the needs of queer Americans.
This news about the census comes the day after President Trump signed an executive order granting federal contractors the ability to discriminate against LGBTQ employees. This is a reversal of his earlier promise to keep the Obama-era protections for LGBTQ federal workers.