Center for American Progress

RELEASE: A Lack of Federal Data on LGBT Americans Hinders Effective Policymaking and Resource Allocation
Press Release

RELEASE: A Lack of Federal Data on LGBT Americans Hinders Effective Policymaking and Resource Allocation

Press Contacts

  • Tom Caiazza

Washington, D.C. — When the data from the American Community Survey, or ACS, are released today, they will offer a treasure trove of new information about the state of America today. However, important data on the needs and concerns of millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, Americans will once again be missing. In a column released by the Center for American Progress today, Senior Fellow Kellan Baker and Laura E. Durso, Director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at CAP, argue that in order to “craft effective, responsible policy responses” to the issues facing LGBT people, major federally supported surveys such as the ACS must begin to routinely gather standardized sexual orientation and gender identity data.

Each year, U.S. federal agencies that include the departments of Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Justice, Education, and Veterans Affairs field surveys such as the ACS in order to help all levels of government understand the needs of local communities, tailor policies and programs accordingly, and enforce nondiscrimination laws such as the Civil Rights Act, among other uses. Timely and comprehensive demographic data from these surveys on sexual orientation and gender identity would be immensely valuable in efforts to understand and address issues such as unemployment, poverty, and barriers to health care among the LGBT population.

“The annual release of the ACS is a reminder of how little data are collected on the needs of the LGBT community,” said Baker. “With at least 9 million Americans identifying as LGBT as of 2011 and myriad recent changes taking place that affect this population—from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality to open military service to the growing visibility of the transgender population—accurate data about what it’s like to be an LGBT person in the United States today are indispensable. Without these data, it is hard to know what kinds of policies should be put in place to better serve LGBT communities and to assess the effectiveness of those policies already in place. It’s time LGBT Americans were counted.”

Click here to read the column.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at tcaiazza@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7141.