Arizona Democratic congressman Raúl Grijalva believes the Census should ask Americans their sexual orientation and gender identities to strengthen the communities' access to resources and legislation.
In a letter to the director of the United States Census Bureau, Rep. Grijalva and Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) requested the American Community Survey start asking citizens about their sexual orientation and gender identity to create "urgently needed" statistics for the LGBTQ population.
The letter to Census Director John Thompson Wednesday advocated for including more questions pertinent to U.S. LGBT populations, saying the information would "directly influence policy" and the "allocation of federal funds."
Grijalva said in a statement that the ACS tracks demographic trends throughout the U.S. that influence policymakers.
“Our lack of sound data about the LGBT community means we are ill-prepared to detect and address threats facing LGBT individuals and the community at large," Grijalva said. "The Census Bureau has been a leader in addressing the needs of the LGBT community by improving the way relationship status is assessed and how the notion of a family is configured."
Grijalva said other categories like marital status are based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“In order to make further progress toward understanding the LGBT population (including its economic, racial, and geographic diversity), we strongly believe the Census Bureau should measure ACS respondents’ sexual orientation and gender identity,” the letter says.
“Adding sexual orientation and gender identity questions to the ACS will allow us to have the information we need to strengthen policies and programs that will improve the lives of LGBT people and their families,” Grijalva and Baldwin write.