The LGBTQ community has not been treated kindly by the current administration. Another blow recently was struck when the national census for 2020 conveniently took out questions about sexual orientation and gender identity that were initially proposed. This would have been the first time these questions would have been included in a census, but sadly, the final report does not include them. I can’t say I’m too surprised.
In a time where LGBTQ awareness has increased, it’s hard not to be saddened by this sudden erasure. Many people, like Chelsea Clinton and Human Rights Campaign, are outraged by the census’ decision to take out the questions regarding gender and sexuality. GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis recently called the GOP’s decision a “systematic effort on behalf of the Trump administration to erase LGBT people.”
This is a big deal. Words and identities do matter, especially in a world where people are discriminated against for being queer, a woman, or transgender.
The Trump Administration is erasing “sexual orientation” & “gender identity” from the 2020 census — but they #CantEraseUs 1/4
— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) March 29, 2017
It’s also not just about language, it’s about data. For instance, knowing how people identify helps governments to create laws we need (like the Violence Against Women Act or legislating gay marriage) or fund organizations that protect people whose rights are constantly being violated.
Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director, National LGBTQ Task Force, echoed this sentiment in a statement:
“Information from these surveys helps the government to enforce federal laws like the Violence Against Women Act and the Fair Housing Act and to determine how to allocate resources like housing supports and food stamps. 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?”
Clearly, the choice not to include the questions implies that the government doesn’t care about creating and protecting people identify as LGBTQ. It doesn’t seem like the bathroom bills are going away anytime soon (16 states have considered “bathroom bills” for instance)–or that more gender neutral bathrooms will be put in place–if the country doesn’t even know how many transgender or non-binary people there are in the country. This decision is perpetuating–and running–a system of ignorance.