March 28, 2020
Many of us are looking for ways to take action right now to make a positive difference. One quick thing we can all do for the future of our communities and our country is to complete the 2020 census.
The 2020 Census is a significant opportunity for the LGBTQ community to participate in a process that will form the basis for government decisions for the next decade. That’s why it’s so important that all of us are counted.
Being counted on the 2020 Census is critical to ensuring all our communities can:
- Get access to federal funds for programs like SNAP, Medicaid, and public housing
- Have more fair representation in our local, state, and federal government
- Enforce our civil rights
- And more
Although the Census does not yet ask specific questions about our sexual orientation and gender identity, it does include options for recognizing a same-gender spouse or, for the first time, unmarried partner in your household.
However, even with this step, the questions on the census still aren’t fully inclusive of LGBTQ people and our families.
Two questions in particular may be difficult for some in our community to navigate:
1) Sex: the Census asks for the sex of each person in your household, and provides only male and female as choices. This frustratingly fails to provide an option or recognition for those in our community who do not identify as male or female. It’s important to know that you can self-identify here in the way that feels most comfortable for you. The Census Bureau does not cross-reference answers with official documents. For the survey, you can answer this question in whichever way feels best to you, given the limited options.
2) Children: the Census asks about the relationship of any children in the home to the primary person completing the form. For many of our families, the options provided, particularly a choice between “biological” or “adopted” child, feel far from recognizing our true parent-child bonds and how we form our families. Our families form in so many diverse ways, and all of our children are treasured and important. It is critical to count our children, regardless of how they are labelled. Some parents may feel that children born through assisted reproduction or surrogacy are most appropriately included in the “biological” category regardless of genetic connection to their parent or parents. Some parents may feel that, if they have a legal decree of adoption or parentage, that their children are most appropriately included in the “adopted” category, and other parents may feel that the term “adopted” more appropriately includes children adopted by a family other than their birth family. There is no right answer. You can answer this question in the way that feels most right for your child to make sure they are counted.
For more information about specific questions on the census, and why it’s so important to fill it out, see this guide from the National LGBTQ Task Force.