Today, HRC published a report: “LGBTQ-Inclusive Data Collection: A Lifesaving Imperative,” revealing how the failure of state and federal officials to collect full and accurate data on sexual orientation and gender identity is causing harm to LGBTQ Americans, who remain largely invisible to the government entities entrusted with ensuring their health, safety and well-being.
“It is imperative that municipal and state governments close the gap on data collection across this country -- and we are calling on them to pass legislation to ensure every single LGBTQ person is counted,” said Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “We must also collect this data at the federal level. The Office of Management and Budget is failing LGBTQ people every day they do not act in collecting information on gender identity and sexual orientation. In addition, Congress should swiftly pass the LGBTQ Data Inclusion Act, which would require federal agencies to include voluntary questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in data collection instruments that include demographic data.”
“Failure to include sexual orientation and gender identity in demographic surveys brings about real and dire consequences for LGBTQ Americans. It is long past time that officials in every level of government include all marginalized communities, including LGBTQ Americans, in all relevant data collection efforts,” said HRC Senior Legislative Counsel Xavier Persad. “Countless sweeping legislative and regulatory proposals, as well as decisions directing hundreds of billions of dollars in public funding, are based on demographic data that exclude sexual orientation and gender identity. This means LGBTQ people are systematically left out of policy and funding decisions that carry life-saving potential.”
HRC is calling on the Office of Management and Budget, as the federal agency charged with coordinating the efforts of the vast and complex federal statistical system, to act quickly in issuing a statistical directive that requires sexual orientation and gender identity measures where data on sex is collected. In addition, Congress should swiftly pass the LGBTQ Data Inclusion Act, which would require federal agencies to include voluntary questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in data collection instruments that include demographic data.
Currently, there are no state or federal laws requiring government and government-funded data collection efforts to include sexual orientation and gender identity data alongside other demographic data such as race, ethnicity and sex. Only four states -- New York, California, Oregon and New Jersey -- and the District of Columbia have narrower laws or regulations mandating LGBTQ-inclusive data collection in specific areas other than hate crimes.
The Trump-Pence administration since day one has engaged in a concerted effort to stymie and roll back existing LGBTQ-inclusive data collection, including:
- The U.S. Census Bureau reversed plans to include sexual orientation and gender identity on the American Community Survey;
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) renounced its plans to include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in its Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living;
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development withdrew its request for comments on a proposed LGBTQ youth homelessness survey;
- HHS published its Strategic Plan for 2018-2022, which excluded any mention of sexual orientation and gender identity;
- The Department of Justice announced that it would stop asking 16- and 17-year-olds voluntary and confidential questions on their sexual orientation and gender identity in the National Crime Victimization Survey; and
- HHS published a proposed rule change that would abandon data collection on the sexual orientation of foster youth and foster and adoptive parents and guardians in the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System;
- And HHS announced it would be removing questions on sexual orientation and gender identity from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants. Fortunately, these questions were restored following public outcry.
Comprehensive laws on every level of government are the most effective first step in ensuring that LGBTQ people are recognized and that their unique needs are adequately addressed. Municipalities, states and the federal government can and should promulgate laws and policies that require their respective data collection undertakings to be fully inclusive of the LGBTQ community.
The full report can be found here.