Late last week, as NPR reported, the U.S. Census Bureau revealed in a congressional report that they will create a clear distinction on the 2020 Census between opposite-sex partners and same-sex partners.
But when it comes to LGBT inclusion on the Census and other federal surveys, that move appears to be the very least the governmental agency can do.
Although gaining a more accurate estimate of the number of same-sex couples will be an important milestone for both research and policymaking, the 2020 Census will still leave out most bisexual people, unpartnered gay men and lesbians, and transgender people—or, in other words, the vast majority of the LGBT community.
“Bittersweet,” is how Laura Durso, an LGBT researcher and the vice president of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, described the Census Bureau’s announcement.
“It’s a good thing that we are now going to improve the way in which we ask people about their relationships, and whether they’re married, and to whom they’re married,” she told The Daily Beast. “And then, of course, that comes with real disappointment that we are still lacking questions about sexual orientation and gender identity that would let us see the full spectrum of the LGBT community.”
Questions about sexual orientation and gender identity made a brief appearance on a 2020 Census proposal last March, shortly after President Trump took office.
But, as the Associated Press reported, the Census Bureau quickly withdrew the questions, saying that the document had “inadvertently listed” them. The withdrawal dashed the hopes of Durso and other advocates, who wanted to see more accurate federal data collection so that researchers and public policy makers could better serve the LGBT community.
Indeed, as The Daily Beast and other outlets have previously noted, we still have no way of knowing exactly how many LGBT people are in the country, relying instead on estimates derived from various federal surveys.
As it stands, researchers believe that LGBT people comprise about four percent of the population, of which the slight majority are bisexual.