Legislation Seeks to Require Federal Agencies That Collect Survey Data to Include Questions Related to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Variations in Sex Characteristics
WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — praised the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives today of the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act. This legislation, which will now go to the Senate, would direct the 107 federal agencies engaged in survey data collection to standardize the inclusion of questions related to sexual orientation, gender identity and variations in sex characteristics.
“We know, from the surveys that currently exist, that LGBTQI+ people are already at a disadvantage in many areas of life – from healthcare, to housing, to employment, and much more,” said David Stacy, HRC Government Affairs Director. “Turning the knowledge of those disparities into action that will close the gap requires a much more systematic and consistent effort. The LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act will provide that framework so that elected officials, government agencies, the private sector, and the public can better meet the needs of LGBTQI+ people and ensure we are included in every facet of our society. We call on the U.S. Senate to take up this important legislation, pass it, and send it to President Biden for his signature.”
Many agencies already collect data relating to the LGBTQI+ population, but without a legal mandate to do so, the level of commitment to continue this practice can change when presidential administrations change. For instance, the Trump administration removed or sought to remove LGBTQI-related questions on the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants, the American Community Survey, the National Crime Victimization Survey and a number of other ongoing data collection efforts.
Importantly, the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act also includes strong protections to protect the privacy of LGBTQI+ people. While agencies will be mandated to seek out information on sexual orientation, gender identity and variations in sex characteristics, people who respond to surveys will still be free to decline to answer those questions, and additional privacy requirements help to prevent the personal identification of any individual.
The enactment of the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act would address a number of key points from HRC’s Blueprint For Positive Change, a document released following the 2020 presidential election that included more than 85 policy recommendations for the then-incoming Biden administration. While the proposed changes could be implemented by the administration without Congressional approval, having a law passed will protect against potential future presidencies that may seek to reverse course in data collection inclusivity.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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