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senate Bill S. 1980

Should Federal Surveys Include Voluntary Data Collection on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity?

Argument in favor

Accurate federal counts of LGBTQ individuals plays an important role in distributing federal funds to meet this community’s needs, crafting federal policies that respond to its concerns and ensuring that federal agencies are equipped to provide the support that’s needed for these individuals. Without an accurate understanding of LGBTQ Americans’ geographic location, it’s much harder to craft federal policies that address their needs.

Aaron's Opinion
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07/31/2019
LGBTQ people are human beings first, Americans second, and patriots third. Federal law in every way needs to be changed to reflect this reality and this truth.
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Wendy's Opinion
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07/31/2019
I support the information being voluntary, as the mom of a KID affected. Unless and until the bigotry and hatred are addressed under existing laws and kids like mine aren’t discarded from their kindergarten schools because a teacher has a right to not only “have very deep beliefs” on this issue, but LOCK my child in a room and degrade him with it until I was left with a child begging to die. Without a single consequence for his Actions! Your district too Dennis Bonnen, Larry Taylor. So yeah, voluntary.
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Bill's Opinion
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07/31/2019
Since it’s voluntary, it can’t really hurt, and would allow some representation for these groups since they seem to think they don’t have one.
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Argument opposed

The decision not to include sexual orientation and gender identity questions in the upcoming 2020 Census and American Community Survey (ACS) has already been made for a good reason — specifically that such questions’ inclusion needs to be carefully considered and done cautiously. It’s questionable whether this information can be safely collected without risking LGBTQ individuals’ safety and employment.

jimK's Opinion
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07/31/2019
I support a lot of the altruistic arguments for collecting this demographic data. However, I am greatly concerned as to how it could be misused. Unfortunately, there are still bigots in our society and I would not want to give them geographic information on communities to target. Perhaps, I have no business having an opinion on this and should leave it to those who suffer this bigotry. It is just that data collected with good intentions can unfortunately, be misused by others with bad intentions.
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Bob's Opinion
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07/31/2019
A person's private sexual preferences aren't any business of the federal government.
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IllWill's Opinion
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07/31/2019
Not sure why it’s necessary to collect this kind of demographic data. Doesn’t really serve any practical purpose. LGBTQ people are just that: people like everyone else. I’m also concerned that this information could be used for sinister purposes by this President or any right-wing local politicians.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    IntroducedJune 26th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 1980?

This bill — the LGBTQ Data Inclusion Act — would require federal surveys to include voluntary data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

To implement this requirement, this bill would require federal agencies that collect information through surveys that include demographic data to establish data standards that require: 

  • A determination of which existing data sets exclude information about sexual orientation and gender identity; 
  • An identification, and a use, of appropriate methods to include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in surveys that facilitate categorization and voluntary participation and that preserve privacy and confidentiality; and 
  • A routine assessment of needed changes in survey methods related to asking such questions.

This bill would also require agencies that publish reports relying on survey demographic data to include information on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Under this bill, individuals would not be required to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to an agency or subject to fines or penalties for refusing to answer, or providing a false answer to, any survey question regarding gender identity or sexual orientation.

This bill wouldn’t permit the use of sexual orientation and gender identity information in a manner that would adversely affect individuals.

Impact

Respondents to federal surveys that collect demographic information; LGBTQ Americans; and federal agencies that collect information through surveys that include demographic data.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1980

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to require federal surveys to include data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity on a voluntary basis, ensuring lawmakers and agencies have robust information to adequately address LGBTQ issues

“Despite the growing number of Americans who recognize that their LGBTQ family members, friends and neighbors deserve to be treated like everyone else in the United States, LGBTQ Americans still face discrimination in many facets of everyday life such as employment, housing and even in the justice system. The LGBTQ 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. This bicameral legislation will be a step forward in the march for fairness, freedom and full equality.”

House sponsor Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) says:

“As we celebrate Pride Month, it’s critical that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are visible and counted in all federal surveys—including the U.S. Census. Without a clear knowledge of the size and needs of the LGBTQ community, its members remain marginalized and left out of many critical policy making decisions. This legislation remedies this in a voluntary and confidential way and ensures that lawmakers have the information we need to serve our LGBTQ constituents.”

Prior to introducing this bill in 2017, Sen. Baldwin and Rep. Grijalva joined Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in leading 86 members of Congress in sending a bicameral letter to U.S. Census Bureau Director John Thompson and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney expressing strong disapproval of the Census Bureau’s decision to remove data collection on LGBT individuals for consideration for the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS). In their letter, the lawmakers noted the need for accurate sexual orientation and gender identity data for legislative purposes

“A number of pieces of federal legislation passed by Congress, implicitly or explicitly, include protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Countless programs implemented under these, and other laws, serve LGBT people; some to a distinctly disproportionate extent. There is no doubt that there is both a statutory benefit and a programmatic need to collect sexual orientation and gender identity data if we want federal agencies to undertake their work in the most efficient and effective manner possible.”

The Center for American Progress (CAP) supports this bill. Dr. Laura E. Durso, Vice President of LGBT Research and Communications Project at CAP, says

“At a time when attempts by the Trump-Pence Administration to roll back progress on LGBTQ civil rights may cause people to go back in the closet out of fear of discrimination, the power that data have to make our experiences and needs visible becomes even more valuable.  The LGBTQ Data Inclusion Act is a smart and comprehensive way to ensure that federal agencies recognize LGBTQ communities and develop policies and programs that serve everyone effectively. The health and security of LGBTQ people nationwide depends on the information that this bill can provide.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) notes, “Inclusive data collection policies are vital in order to understand and improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ Americans. While some federal data on LGBTQ communities is currently collected, there is no centralized requirement prioritizing the collection of LGBTQ data in federal surveys which this bill would address.”

Some data privacy experts worry that sexual orientation information collected in federal surveys, such as the census, could be used against LGBTQ people, especially in states that do not have laws banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender equality.

Within the LGBTQ community itself, there remains debate over whether it’s better or worse for the community to be counted in official government census counts. Jane Ward, associate professor of gender and sexuality studies at the University of California, Riverside, describes the tension thusly

“On the one hand, the mainstream gay and lesbian movement has always pushed for visibility, and a part of that is quantifying gay and lesbian identity. The logic there is that there’s safety in numbers and that the more of us who come out and get counted, the more legitimacy gay and lesbian people will have. This way of thinking has evolved past representation and into bio-essentialist claims that gay and lesbian people are born with homosexual constitutions that we can’t do anything about. As such, the mainstream gay and lesbian movement proposes that sexual orientation is immutable, and that there’s a large number of gay and lesbian Americans who should receive the same kinds of rights as other groups with ‘immutable differences,’ like race and gender, within the U.S. On the other hand, there’s a more queer perspective, which is weary of presuming that gay, lesbian, bi, trans people are discrete and bounded populations that you can easily count. As we become more attuned to sexual fluidity and the unpredictability of people’s sexual behaviors, presuming that we can count these identifications in a way that will tell us something meaningful is coming into question… So while I see the political efficacy of including sexual orientation on the census, which would certainly be useful for statistical claims related to inclusion and legitimacy, I also see why we might be less invested in quantifying queerness, too.”

This bill has 18 Democratic Senate cosponsors. Its House companion, sponsored by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), has 86 Democratic House cosponsors. As of July 10, 2019, neither bill had received a committee vote. In the current Congress, it has the support of the Center for American Progress, GLSEN, Guttmacher Institute, Human Rights Campaign, NAACP, NALEO Education Fund, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Transgender Equality, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, PFLAG, The Trevor Project, The Williams Institute, Third Way, Transgender Law Center, True Colors United, and the American Psychological Association.

Last Congress, this bill had 16 Democratic Senate cosponsors and didn’t receive a committee vote. Its House companion, sponsored by Rep. Grijalva, had 123 Democratic cosponsors and also didn’t receive a committee vote


Of NotePLFAG notes that data collection about LGBTQ individuals is critical to understanding the issues they face. The organization notes that data from LGBTQ individuals is needed “in order to pinpoint the issues they face and come up with solutions.”

The Trump administration has made multiple efforts to stop collecting data on LGBTQ people. In March 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau removed questions on gender identity and sexual orientation (which had been proposed by the Obama administration) from its list of questions for the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS). The Justice Dept. sent the Census Bureau a letter stating that queer people wouldn’t be included in the ACS, writing that that Obama administration’s previous request to count LGBTQ people “requires thorough analysis and careful consideration.”

In the same month, the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) also proposed taking older LGBTQ people out of national surveys, including the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants. However, ThinkProgress notes that there are health disaparities between LGBTQ seniors and straight and cis seniors, which is why information about elder LGBTQ people is important for policymaking to improve their lives. 


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / numbeos)

AKA

LGBTQ Data Inclusion Act

Official Title

A bill to improve Federal population surveys by requiring the collection of voluntary, self-disclosed information on sexual orientation and gender identity in certain surveys, and for other purposes.

    LGBTQ people are human beings first, Americans second, and patriots third. Federal law in every way needs to be changed to reflect this reality and this truth.
    Like (37)
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    I support a lot of the altruistic arguments for collecting this demographic data. However, I am greatly concerned as to how it could be misused. Unfortunately, there are still bigots in our society and I would not want to give them geographic information on communities to target. Perhaps, I have no business having an opinion on this and should leave it to those who suffer this bigotry. It is just that data collected with good intentions can unfortunately, be misused by others with bad intentions.
    Like (134)
    Follow
    Share
    A person's private sexual preferences aren't any business of the federal government.
    Like (71)
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    Not sure why it’s necessary to collect this kind of demographic data. Doesn’t really serve any practical purpose. LGBTQ people are just that: people like everyone else. I’m also concerned that this information could be used for sinister purposes by this President or any right-wing local politicians.
    Like (53)
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    ... I think if the LGBTQIA+ community wants to be counted then count away... but that kind of question is going to have to be framed very carefully to be inclusive. Sexuality and Gender aren’t binaries or easily defined by multiple choice. They are spectrums and fluid ones at that. Especially gender identity can fluctuate with mood and hormones. Even cis genders experience that. So it’s not that easy. Humans are a vastly variable species. 🏳️‍🌈
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    If I had a dollar for every gender, I’d have two dollars and a bunch of counterfeits! Sexual preference, however, is no business of the government.
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    Sexual preferences aren’t anyone’s business.
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    If were not even allowed to ask if someone is a citizen why would we even ask an insane person those questions. That’s mental illness they should receive help to make them normal again. #MAGA
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    IMPEACHMENT should be the only item on the agenda. Mueller made it crystal clear the President was NOT exonerated and would have been criminally charged if he was not in office. Until "Individual One" is held accountable and brought to trial, there is no rule of law in this country. Uphold the Constitution and the oath you swore to obey.
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    Why? I really am not interested in your personal bedroom life. I feel this is like when Nazi Germany allowed gays to be open. Once open then they gathered them up and they disappeared. So when you want to expose your personal life styles beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
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    People’s sexual preference and identity is their own private issue. We shouldn’t discriminate against anyone.
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    Only if there's a citizenship question. If we're going to identify people, begin there.
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    That is nobody's business except the person in question. Considering the idiots in DC, I don't want them collecting this kind of information for fear of what they'd do with it. They're not the brightest lights in the basket nor have they proven themselves humane or compassionate. So no, no collecting this kind of data.
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    The government should not collect any data they don’t really need and if they really need it then it can’t be voluntary. Also no data should be collected until the government can say exactly what they plan to do with it.
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    Not sure why the government wants to know who is sleeping with who, but with a reality star as a president, what do I know anymore?
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    When there are these kinds of cultural data collection efforts, I always put the word “Jew” in there to see how the bill feels. It doesn’t feel good. LGBTQ are vulnerable populations. We should treat everyone with respect and provide care when needed. If we did that, we wouldn’t need this kind of granular data.
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    I support the information being voluntary, as the mom of a KID affected. Unless and until the bigotry and hatred are addressed under existing laws and kids like mine aren’t discarded from their kindergarten schools because a teacher has a right to not only “have very deep beliefs” on this issue, but LOCK my child in a room and degrade him with it until I was left with a child begging to die. Without a single consequence for his Actions! Your district too Dennis Bonnen, Larry Taylor. So yeah, voluntary.
    Like (8)
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    Why? Doesn’t make any sense.
    Like (7)
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    Nobody’s business.
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    It’s nothing but perversion! We don’t need to promote confusion.
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