04.05.16

Nearly 80 Members of Congress Urge Census Bureau to Expand Data Collection by Census Bureau on LGBT Individuals

Data Would Enable Government to More Effectively Regulate and Legislate on LGBT Issues

Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), along with 76 other Members of Congress sent a bipartisan to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) urging the Committee to include report language in its Fiscal Year 2017 bill that expresses support for expanded data collection by the Census Bureau on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

In the letter the Members write: “Despite tremendous progress in the fight to secure equal recognition under the law, LGBT Americans continue to face discrimination in facets of everyday life such as in employment, housing, and even in the justice system. There is also compelling evidence that many, particularly transgender people, are at greater risk of being victimized by violence, as well as facing a variety of other challenges. While the Census Bureau took an important step forward in 2013 by including the marital status of same-sex couples as part of ACS data on families, the fact remains that we know little else about the social and economic circumstances of the LGBT population at large. Expanded data collection on LGBT people is needed to help policymakers and community stakeholders understand the full extent of these disparities, as well as identifying the needs of these communities so they can be better served. It is also crucial to our ability to respond with effective and sensible policy solutions that address the unique needs of this vulnerable population. For these reasons, we believe that the Census Bureau should advance plans to expand LGBT data collection in future national surveys and urge you to assist us in reaching this goal.”

The letter was signed by 78 Members of Congress, including Schiff and Ros-Lehtinen, who led the letter, and Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY),Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Mark Takano (D-CA). 

The full letter, with the text below, can be found here:

Dear Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Honda:

We write to request the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) include report language in its Fiscal Year 2017 bill that expresses support for expanded data collection by the Census Bureau on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

As you know, the Bureau routinely collects demographic information through the decennial census and the annual American Census Survey (ACS). The federal government, states, and local communities rely on Census and ACS data to determine how resources should be allocated to meet the needs of certain populations. Despite this critical mission, neither of these assessments nor any other major federal population survey currently asks respondents to share their sexual orientation and gender identity.  This means that even the most basic of statistics – the number of people who identify as LGBT – cannot be counted.

Despite tremendous progress in the fight to secure equal recognition under the law, LGBT Americans continue to face discrimination in facets of everyday life such as in employment, housing, and even in the justice system. There is also compelling evidence that many, particularly transgender people, are at greater risk of being victimized by violence, as well as facing a variety of other challenges. While the Census Bureau took an important step forward in 2013 by including the marital status of same-sex couples as part of ACS data on families, the fact remains that we know little else about the social and economic circumstances of the LGBT population at large.

Expanded data collection on LGBT people is needed to help policymakers and community stakeholders understand the full extent of these disparities, as well as identifying the needs of these communities so they can be better served. It is also crucial to our ability to respond with effective and sensible policy solutions that address the unique needs of this vulnerable population. For these reasons, we believe that the Census Bureau should advance plans to expand LGBT data collection in future national surveys and urge you to assist us in reaching this goal. Therefore, we respectfully recommend that the Committee include the following report language in the accompanying report of its Fiscal Year 2017 CJS bill:

“The Committee is aware of concerns regarding the lack of reliable data on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population in the United States. The Committee believes that the availability of such data on the size, location, and circumstances of the LGBT population would be useful to policymakers and researchers. Therefore, the Committee urges the Bureau to study the feasibility of expanding data collection on the LGBT population in its future federal population surveys and to report to the Committee within 180 days on its plans.“

The Census Bureau’s data collection efforts has always played a significant role in our ability to understand the communities that we represent and how best to represent them. LGBT Americans – like every American – deserve to be counted and recognized in all federally-supported surveys. We appreciate your consideration of our request and your willingness to engage on this critical issue.

Sincerely,