Washington, D.C. — Despite assurances that no changes had been made to two critical federal government surveys, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS—whose secretary, Tom Price, is notoriously anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT—has, in fact, proposed to eliminate questions about LGBT Americans from at least two surveys. The Center for American Progress, along with partner Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, or SAGE, has released a column showing how these changes to the surveys will affect how LGBT Americans receive federal services.
Laura E. Durso, Vice President for CAP’s LGBT Research and Communications Project, issued the following statement:
Governments have a responsibility to ensure that social service programs meet the needs of communities they aim to protect, especially vulnerable communities such as LGBT older adults. Policymakers cannot fulfill that responsibility without robust, quality data, which makes this action by the Trump administration an appalling step backward. Data collection is about more than numbers on a page. Without data, we can’t know whether HHS is equitably serving LGBT people in need.
Without the information provided in these surveys, we can’t ensure that LGBT seniors have equal access to important government services or that LGBT people with disabilities have equal access to independent living services that empower them to live full and self-determined lives. We can’t ensure that the administration is fulfilling its duty to eliminate the barriers that shut vulnerable LGBT people out of the safety net. By walking back data collection on LGBT populations, this administration is saying that they would rather erase disparities than end them.
The National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants is one of the country’s most important tools for assessing the needs of older Americans who receive social support and nutritional programs. As the column points out, questions about older LGBT Americans have been removed from the most recently proposed survey, meaning that data assessing the needs of older LGBT Americans will not be taken into account by the federal government. Older LGBT Americans face acute levels of economic insecurity, social isolation and discrimination and rely on the services provided by the federal government. Without data assessing their needs, they could be effectively ignored by their own government.
The column looks at a second survey, the data from which had previously been used to provide quality services to LGBT Americans with disabilities. LGBT Americans with disabilities face significant barriers to accessibility services. Discontinuing data collection for this vulnerable group could have an outsized effect on their quality of life.
Collecting data is a critical role for the federal government. In order to provide quality services to the American people in an efficient and effective manner, the government must study the needs of its constituents. By eliminating questions about LGBT Americans from these surveys and then lying about it, the Trump administration and the Department of Health and Human Services in particular are seeking to intentionally under serve LGBT Americans by ignoring their needs.
Click here to read the column.
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