Metro Weekly

96 members of Congress introduce LGBT Data Inclusion Act

Bill would require federal surveys to include data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity

U.S. Congress – Photo: Lawrence Jackson, via Wikimedia.

On Tuesday, a group of 96 members of Congress introduced legislation to require federal surveys to include questions that allow for data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The LGBT Data Inclusion Act, sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), is intended to provide federal agencies with information on sexual orientation and gender identity so that agencies and programs that serve the LGBTQ community can best allocate resources and and adjust to meet the community’s needs.

“The LGBT Data Inclusion Act will ensure that a marginalized population, the LGBT community, is taken into account for the everyday policy decisions our nation’s lawmakers take,” Grijalva said in a statement. “The current lack of sound data about sexual orientation and gender identity in many federal surveys means we are ill-prepared to meet the needs of this community.

“As it stands, lawmakers are blindfolded when it comes to allocating funds to address the LGBT community’s employment, housing, and health disparities,” Grijalva continued. “As the LGBT community is specifically targeted by the Trump administration and the like in State houses all across the country, we need robust data so that lawmakers are able to make informed policy decisions about people living and working in their districts.”

A previous version of the bill was introduced in the last Congress, and was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, but no hearings were held on it.

The reintroduction of the bill comes after the Trump administration has come under fire for eliminating questions on sexual orientation and gender identity from the American Community Survey and the 2020 Census. That decision was criticized by 86 members of Congress, including Baldwin and Grijalva, who sent a letter to U.S. Census Bureau Director John Thompson and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who objected to the removal of the questions.

The administration has also been criticized for the removal of similar demographic questions from an aging survey put out by the Department of Health and Human Services. In response to public outcry, the administration allowed questions on sexual orientation to be restored on the survey, but continues to exclude questions related to gender identity.

“Despite the growing number of Americans who recognize that their LGBT family members, friends and neighbors deserve to be treated like everyone else in the United States, LGBT Americans still face discrimination in many facets of everyday life such as employment, housing and even in the justice system,” Baldwin said in a statement. “The LGBT Data Inclusion Act will help ensure that policy makers and community leaders have the information they need to help better understand the full extent of such discrimination and better serve the communities they represent.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com