Data Inclusion Is Vital for LGBTQI Equality

When LGBTQI people are not seen and counted, the challenges we experience are rendered invisible and public policies often don’t reflect our needs.

A 2022 report by The Leadership Conference Education Fund provides a current “state of play” and emphasizes the investments needed in federal civil rights data collection. On the one hand, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has included questions about sexual orientation since 2015 and a gender identity question since 2017. Those data reveal high rates of suicidal ideation and bullying for LGBTQ youth. The adult Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System has included these questions since 2013. Yet just last year, the U.S. Census Bureau for the first time ever included questions that allow for LGBTQ people to be identified in their experimental Household Pulse Survey. These data have yielded important findings, yet they remain the only Census Bureau survey that includes these questions. And many federal surveys simply do not ask questions about sexual orientation, gender identity, or variations in sex characteristics that allow for the identification of LGBTQI people.

We found that LGBTQ households, especially those headed by Black and Latino LGBTQ people, had been hit harder by COVID-19. Nearly all (95 percent of Black LGBTQ people and 70 percent of Latino LGBTQ people) said they or someone in their household had experienced a serious financial problem. Because of the sample sizes, we could not report on the experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander LGBTQ people.

Finally, inclusion of LGBTQI people in federal surveys should happen consistently and in a thorough manner that ensures that the data meet the needs of decision-makers and allow for the enforcement of existing civil rights laws.

For example, though the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ruled that discrimination based on sex includes discrimination against LGBTQI people, there remain too few data to examine housing discrimination because HUD’s surveys don’t ask the right questions.

We know now, more than ever, that data equity and inclusion are necessary to build a better America.

Precisely because the federal government has been an architect and protector of structural racism, inequality, and other injustices, it now has an obligation to do all it can to correct these inequities and to create a society in which all people can thrive.



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Movement Advancement Project

Movement Advancement Project

MAP is an independent, nonprofit think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all.