The Burrow

Census Controversy

Joshua Davis, Staff Writer

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The United States is one of many countries that conducts a census. What that means is that every ten years a survey is distributed with the purpose of getting an accurate number of people living in the United States, along with other important information. Ever since the 1970s, questions about race have been presented to people. The purpose of these questions range from making policy issues (especially those regarding civil rights) and promoting employment opportunities. Race is just one example of additional questions used to grasp a better understanding on the different demographics present in the country; others include sex, age, living situation, etc. So why have democrats and LGBTQ activists pushed to get questions on sexual orientation and gender identity added?

According to NPR, LGBTQ rights activists claim that reliable data on the LGBTQ community is hard to come by and that policy makers need it in order to make informed decisions. Meghan Maury, criminal and economic justice project director at the National LGBTQ Task Force makes the point that “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?” More people have come forward with statements, saying that without an accurate idea of how many LGBT people there are, it is impossible to understand the levels of poverty and other serious challenges that they endure. Was this truly an act of negligence or malice though?

The Hill reports that some Census experts say the decision might not of been a political one. Going further, they explain that the Census Bureau takes years testing new topics that may be included in the Census. Researching had been done on sexual orientation questions but they may not have finished, or did not know the best possible way to phrase the question. Even if this may be true, it is impossible to ignore a new trend that has occurred. In the recent weeks, the National LGBTQ Task Force has observed that two national surveys have both dropped their questions on sexual orientation and gender identity. “This is part of a bigger pattern,” Maury said. “It seems like it would be pretty far outside the norm for three relatively independent agencies to make these decisions in the space of a month.”

For better or worse, the 2020 census will not include questions on sexual orientation or gender identity, despite a strong push from the LGBTQ community. The motive behind this decision is not clear but could potentially be harmful to the LGBTQ community itself.

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Census Controversy