How the census overlooks the LGBTQ community

when it comes to who identifies as LGBT
there’s a generation divide in the u.s. Yas Queen between three to four point
five percent of adults identify as LGBT compared to about eight to nine percent
of teenagers the thinking is that younger generations feel more
comfortable sharing their identity and it’s important that we get these
statistics right the old expression is if you aren’t counted you don’t count
this is Kerith Conron from UCLA’s Williams Institute in talking with state
legislators and federal policy makers the first question that people ask you
when you go into their office is how many people live in my district and if
you can’t answer that question it’s very hard for anybody to give your issue any
serious consideration and this is why Kerith started doing this kind of
research because being counted and being visible it really matters especially if
you want politicians or policy makers to address issues important to your
community. The US census which officially surveys the population has never
directly asked any questions about the LGBT community but researchers have
developed an interesting workaround in 1990 the census added the term unmarried
partner as an option for households mainly with straight couples in mind
this was to account for the growing number of people living together outside
of marriage researchers began to indirectly use this data to count
same-sex couples since the census also asks the sex of each person in a
household so someone can look at that combined information to see how many
same-sex partners live together in the US but this indirect form of counting
can lead to mistakes it’s much easier to just ask people directly
so in 2020 an improvement was made to the form and options include a same-sex
married partner a same-sex unmarried partner an opposite-sex married partner
and opposite sex unmarried partner but this doesn’t mean that every
LGBT person is going to be counted the new questions are only counting same-sex
couples who live together so if you’re a lesbian couple but not living together
you’re not counted if you don’t identify as male or female
there’s no way to note this in fact Kerith estimates that the census
overlooks about 80 percent of people in the LGBT community I think it would be
ideal if the US census surveys as would include questions that ask people about
their current gender identity coupled with questions that ask about assigned
sex at birth this is in addition to questions that we ask people about their
sexual orientation identity since the 90s activists in the trans community
have pushed for ways to be identified on surveys beyond the Census and by
increasing their visibility in survey data they’ve gotten results so even
doing an analysis of NIH funding for transgender research I’ve seen a major
increase in the number of grants funded for transgender folks over the last 10
years this is huge with this funding researchers can develop health care
specifically for the trans community despite the shortcomings of the current
census Kerith believes that it will eventually grow more and more inclusive
I am confident that there are many people within federal government that
believe that inclusive data collection is a priority and that data collection
will move forward

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