Showing posts with label Census. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Census. Show all posts

January 15, 2019

Court Orders Trump Admin to Remove Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

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A federal judge in New York has ruled against the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ordered the administration to stop its plans to include the controversial question on forms for the upcoming national head count "without curing the legal defects" the judge identified in his opinion released on Tuesday.

Furman's decision marks a significant milestone in a legal battle that began shortly after the Trump administration announced last year that the 2020 census would include a controversial question about U.S. citizenship status. The added question was: "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" All U.S. households have not been asked such a question on the census since 1950.

How The 2020 Census Citizenship Question Ended Up In Court
Furman has noted that he does not expect his order to be the final word on the question's fate. The district court ruling in New York is expected to be appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and, ultimately, to the Supreme Court.

In addition to the two lead cases before Furman at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the administration is fighting five more lawsuits across the country filed by dozens of states, cities and other groups that want the question removed. A second trial over the question began earlier this month in California, and another is scheduled to begin in Maryland on Jan. 22. 
Citizenship Question May Be 'Major Barrier' To 2020 Census Participation
The Supreme Court has already agreed to weigh in on a dispute over the evidence that can be considered for the lawsuits. The justices are scheduled to hear oral arguments in February on that issue, as well as on whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, can be questioned under oath by the plaintiffs' attorneys about why he approved adding the question.

The administration has maintained that the citizenship question was added because the Justice Department wants to use the responses to better enforce Voting Rights Act provisions that protect racial and language minorities from being discriminated against.

Census Bureau To Test How Controversial Citizenship Question Affects Responses

Census Bureau To Test How Controversial Citizenship Question Affects Responses
The lawsuits' plaintiffs, however, have argued that the administration has been misleading the public. Ross, the plaintiffs insist, misused his authority over the census and, by adding the citizenship question, discriminated against immigrant communities of color. Research by the Census Bureau suggests asking about citizenship status in the current political climate will scare households with noncitizens from participating in the head count. That, in turn, could jeopardize the constitutionally mandated head count of every person living in the U.S.

December 19, 2018

Unlike The US With A Homophobic President Gay Britons Will Get Counted on Their Census


The 22 official surveys that estimate the number of lesbian, gay and bisexual Britons would disgrace the back of an envelope. According to one, 0.9% of Britons are not heterosexual. Another puts that figure at 5.5%. Guesstimates for the transgender population are fuzzy, too. The government “tentatively” reckons there are 200,000-500,000. So Lisa Power, who co-founded Stonewall, an lgbt charity, says she is delighted that statisticians plan to ask for the first time about sexual orientation and gender identity in the next census, in 2021. “If you don’t count, you don’t count.”

Policymakers will find the figures helpful. lgbt folk have more mental-health troubles than straight people, says Paul Twocock of Stonewall. Wonks armed with data ought to be able to meet this demand more accurately. The government struggles to budget for policies to promote minority rights, like those that allow gay marriage or ban employment discrimination. Census data would let councils see the extent to which such minorities were represented in their areas. Doctors’ surveys suggest an uneven spread among London boroughs, for example. One in ten residents in Lambeth—which includes Vauxhall, a gay hotspot—say they are not straight, compared with one in 70 in Havering.

The Economist

September 21, 2018

Why Did Trump and His Staff Did Not Want to Ask About Sexual Orientation on The Census

Plans to add questions about sexual orientation and gender identity to the largest survey in the U.S. — the Census Bureau's American Community Survey — stalled after President Trump entered the White House last year.
The newly released testimony of an official at the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, points to a possible reason. Earl Comstock, who heads the department's Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, was recently deposed for the lawsuits over the 2020 census citizenship question
Asked by Matthew Colangelo, an attorney for the plaintiffs, if sexual orientation and gender identity questions were not included "because you came to the policy position you did not want to ask" them, Comstock replied: "That was the administration's conclusion, yes."
A transcript excerpt of Comstock's Aug. 30 deposition was filed Wednesday with Manhattan federal court by the plaintiffs' attorneys from the New York state attorney general's office, the American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm Arnold & Porter.
As NPR has reported, four federal agencies during the Obama administration submitted requests for sexual orientation and gender identity questions to be added to the American Community Survey. Last March, however, the Census Bureau announced that there was "no federal data need" to do so.
A "sensitive" topic
During his deposition, Comstock appears to have mistaken that those requests were for the 2020 census and not the American Community Survey, which the Census Bureau also conducts.   
"The prior administration had wanted to add ... to the decennial census a question on sexual orientation and gender identity," he testified, according to the transcript excerpt. "So for all the people that are raising an uproar right now about the addition of this [citizenship] question, apparently there was no concern about adding such a question on another sensitive topic last year." 
The requests for the questions came from the Justice Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Environmental Protection Agency. 
In a June 2016 letter to the Census Bureau, then-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro wrote, "Valid, reliable, and nationally representative data on sexual orientation and gender identity are essential to HUD fulfilling its mission." The Justice Department noted in its request that such data could help the agency enforce the Civil Rights Act's protections against employment discrimination. 
Under the Trump administration, however, Justice Department officials contacted the Census Bureau about the "appropriateness" of sexual orientation and gender identity topics appearing on the upcoming American Community Survey, according to a March 2017 letter sent by the Commerce Department that was published on the website of Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware.
Later, Justice Department officials stood down on the agency's request, saying that it "requires thorough analysis and careful consideration." The department did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the status of its analysis.
A spokesperson for the Census Bureau, Michael Cook, referred NPR's inquiries to the Commerce Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"Inadvertently listed"
Asked by email in March if any Census Bureau officials were concerned the Trump administration would not support the requests to add sexual orientation and gender identity questions to the American Community Survey, Cook replied: "N/A." Asked to clarify, he later wrote back, "It should have read as NO."  
While the 2020 census is set to include new relationship categories differentiating between "same-sex" and "opposite-sex" couples, the Census Bureau so far has not directly asked about sexual orientation or gender identity in its surveys. 
A group of Senate Democrats introduced a bill in July that would require such questions on census forms for every U.S. household by 2030 and by 2020, on the American Community Survey. About one in 38 households every year are required by federal law to answer that survey.
In March 2017, the issue made a brief appearance in the appendix of a Census Bureau report announcing the proposed question topics for the 2020 census and an update to the American Community Survey. But hours after the report was posted on the bureau's website, the reference to "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" as "Proposed" was removed from the second-to-last page.   
The bureau said that it was " inadvertently listed." But in a draft version of the report NPR obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, a full page dedicated to the topic that was missing from the final version noted:

June 21, 2017

"Collecting LGBT Census Information is Essential" Gov't Document Shows

The U.S. Census Bureau has never asked Americans about sexual orientation and gender identity. Last year, though, requests for that data came from more than 75 members of Congress and multiple federal agencies.
Still, the Census Bureau concluded "there was no federal data need" to collect this information, the bureau's outgoing director, John Thompson, wrote in March.
document obtained by NPR through a Freedom of Information Act request, however, reveals that the Department of Housing and Urban Development told the bureau that there indeed was a need.
"Valid, reliable, and nationally representative data on sexual orientation and gender identity are essential to HUD fulfilling its mission," former HUD Secretary Julián Castro wrote in a letter to Thompson dated June 30, 2016.
The letter recommended adding sexual orientation and gender identity questions to the American Community Survey, which the Census Bureau conducts annually with about 3 million households to, in part, determine how to distribute government funds.
Many LGBT rights groups have raised their concerns about the bureau's conclusion. They say policymakers need accurate national data about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in order to provide adequate services.
Information about LGBT people, Castro said, would help HUD implement its "Equal Access to Housing" rule, which prohibits landlords who receive federal housing funds from discriminating against LGBT tenants. It also bans mortgage lenders from denying federally insured mortgages to qualified applicants who are LGBT.
Castro's letter also argued that LGBT data could help enforcement of the Fair Housing Act:
"The Fair Housing Act does not specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases. However, discrimination against an LGBTQ person may be covered by the Fair Housing Act if it is based on nonconformity with gender stereotypes."
The release of the HUD letter comes about a month after Democratic Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Kamala Harris of California asked Thompson in a letter to provide an explanation by Monday about how the Census Bureau decided to not add sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic for the American Community Survey.
As of Monday evening, spokespeople for both senators' offices said they had not yet received a response. Thompson, whose surprise retirement was announced by the Commerce Department in May, is set to leave the Census Bureau on June 30.
"We fully intend to reply to this inquiry, and our response will be submitted to the senators once it has been properly reviewed," says a Census Bureau spokesperson, who declined to provide further comment to NPR.
HUD and Castro have not responded to requests for comment.
Carper's office recently posted online letters between lawyers for the Census Bureau and for the Department of Justice about adding sexual orientation and gender identity questions to the American Community Survey.
In a letter dated Nov. 4, 2016, the Justice Department requested the Census Bureau to "consider a new topic in the [American Community Survey] relating to LGBT populations." It also provided a spreadsheet of statutes describing the "legal authority supporting the necessity for the collection of this information."
After the Trump administration came into office, however, Justice Department officials contacted the Census Bureau about the "appropriateness" of certain sexual orientation and gender identity topics, according to a letter from the Census Bureau dated March 1, 2017.
Six days later, the Justice Department sent a letter stating that it was "unable to reaffirm" its own request from last November for information about LGBT populations "because such a request requires thorough analysis and careful consideration."
"As a result, the Census Bureau halted its evaluation of whether [sexual orientation and gender identity] should be included in the 2020 Census and [American Community Survey]," Carper and Harris wrote in their recent letter to Thompson. "These communications raise concerns about the role of the DOJ and its influence on government data collection."
The Justice Department did not respond immediately to a request for comment, but we will update this post with any statement received.
In March, the Census Bureau was caught in a controversy over its report of planned topics of questions for the 2020 census and the American Community Survey. "Sexual orientation and gender identity" was originally listed as a "proposed" topic before it was removed in a revised report. Thompson said that inclusion was "due to an error."
Some advocates see these changes as part of a series of moves by the Trump administration to stop federal agencies from collecting data on the LGBT community.
Questions about sexual orientation were recently removed from draft questionnaires for a couple of federal surveys about older Americans and people with disabilities. These two surveys by the Department of Health and Human Services are among a dozen federal surveys and studies that collect information on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a 2016 working paper by a federal interagency group convened by the Obama administration to improve how this information is collected by the federal government.

June 3, 2017

Trump Refusal to Count Gays The Most Dangerous Thing He is Done So Far to The LGBT

Waiting to be counted. (Kristen Boydstun) in quartz

How can we fix problems that never officially existed?
On May 11, a group of 49 US House members called on the Department of Health & Health Services to “restore questions allowing responders to identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual to a federal survey for elders,” according to the Washington Blade. The move is an important if largely symbolic push for LGBT visibility even as the Trump administration seems less interested than ever in making sure queer problems are acknowledged in the US.
Although a minority of Americans attempted to argue that US president Donald Trump was a supporter of LGBT rights, it’s already abundantly clear this is not the case. As The New York Times’ editorial board recently noted, Trump’s claim that he would be a “champion of gay and transgender people” as president has proven to be a “fallacy.” Adding insult to injury was the announcement by the Census Bureau this spring that it would not be including questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in its 2020 survey.  
A draft of the topics under consideration for the 2020 questionnaire—including questions about LGBT identity—was leaked in late March. The Census Bureau, though, claimed that sexual orientation and gender identity were included “inadvertently.” 
Whether or not there was ever a plan to add sexual orientation queries is less important than the reality. Advocates tell Quartz that counting the LGBT community in federal surveys is more important now than ever. Crucially, collecting data on marginalized populations helps the government better understand the challenges and myriad forms of discrimination they face. This in turn helps guide public policy and laws fighting systemic injustice and tells agencies where to allocate funding. 
It has been an infuriating few months for the LGBT community. In late February, the Trump administration announced that it would be rescinding the federal guidance on transgender students passed by the Obama administration. The White House also rescinded a 2014 executive order in March regarding the oversight of nondiscrimination protections for federal contractors. Although Trump has said that he will keep in place policies that prevent government employees from being explicitly fired on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, removing federal supervision guidelines makes those rules more difficult to enforce.
Lastly, the questions on gender identity and sexual orientation were removed from two surveys on LGBT seniors conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services. 
The federal government first began including LGBT seniors in the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants in 2014. The move allowed agencies to assess the high levels of “economic insecurity, social isolation, and discrimination” faced by this needy population. Research shows that nearly two-thirds of LGBT older adults are concerned about being discriminated against by service providers, nursing homes, or their caregivers.
Removing LGBT older adults from this survey makes it “impossible to assess whether key programs for seniors and people with disabilities are meeting the needs of LGBT Americans,” according to Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank based in Washington D.C.
“This isn’t just about data,” says Laura Durso, the vice president of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at CAP. “It’s about people.”
Durso pointed to recent surveys from groups like UCLA’s The Williams Institute on the issue of LGBT youth homelessness, which have helped highlight the severity of the issue. “As a researcher and advocate,” Durso said, being able to point to specific statistics is “invaluable.” “You can’t ignore that,” she notes. “Without that kind of information, we’re not able to move the needle on any of these types of policies.”
Organizations like Gallup and the Public Religious Research Institute (PRRI) have helped fill in some of the informational gaps in recent years by including questions related to sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2012, Gallup released its first report on the size of America’s LGBT population — which at the time measured 3.4% of the public. The PRRI’s American Values Atlas, a yearly report on the attitudes of US citizens on issues like immigration and abortion, included LGBT people for the first time in 2016. This year’s edition will survey over 100,000 people, the largest representative sample in its history. 
“It was our estimation that this was becoming a politically important group of Americans,” said Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor-in-chief, of the group’s decision to include LGBT people. “The LGBT community is more politically active and in the forefront of policy and legislation. It makes sense for us to be able to isolate this population, where it would have not have made as much sense 30 or 40 years ago.”
While Gallup conducts 1,000 interviews every night, Dan Cox of the PRRI said that there’s simply no substitute for Census statistics, which he called the “gold standard” for data collection.
“The government is the largest resource for demographic data in the US,” said Cox, who serves as the organization’s research director. “It’s an essential source for monitoring the welfare and of the American economy and the American public. By doing this type of work, you can provide people a window into the perspectives of people who are very different than their own and maybe gain some appreciation and empathy for people you might disagree with.”
She added that without collecting data on the LGBT community, the White House would “never have to be accountable to any discrimination that this data might uncover.”
The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that over 200 anti-LGBT bills will be considered at the state level this year; Trump has also endorsed the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), a national version of state “religious freedom” bills. That legislation, if passed, would allow businesses and other entities to deny service to LGBT people based on their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
But not everyone wants their sexual orientation information being tracked. Given the anti-LGBT track record of the current administration, some are concerned that surveying sexual orientation or gender identity could be used to further target the community. 
“Imagine a scenario in which the Trump administration called for all Americans to register their sexual preferences with the government,” argues Kyle Sammin, a conservative writer for The Federalist. “The government would know precisely what is going on in your bedroom, and in the bedrooms of your fellow citizens across the nation. That sounds like a lefty fever dream, a dystopian vision of Trumpian persecution.”
Sammin compared it to concerns among progressives over a “Muslim registry” under Trump.
Even so, the potential benefits of tracking orientation outweigh the risks for most LGBT advocates who understand the importance of visibility. Meghan Maury, the senior policy counsel for the National LGBTQ Task Force, says that advocates have been working with the Bureau “for decades” to survey the LGBT community. In 2010, they started Queer the Census, an effort to ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity were counted in the prior survey. That effort wasn’t successful either, but Maury said advocates will keep lobbying Congress.
“It’s always hard to know what someone’s final decision will be, but it seemed as if the Bureau was moving in the direction of including these questions,” Maury notes. “When the decision came out we were definitely very surprised and disappointed, but we’re going to keep plugging away.”
The next opportunity for LGBT inclusion is the American Community Survey (ACS), an annual index run by the Census Bureau that augments decennial collection. Maury said that questions on sexual orientation and gender identity could be included in the ACS as soon as the next couple years. The Census often offers test versions of the survey, in which it invites public comment. She promised that the LGBT people’s “voices will be heard” during that beta testing, claiming that recognition of the community is long overdue from a department that should have made this change a decade ago.
“We are made invisible in a million ways all the time,” she said. “This decision to not include us in the 2020 Census feels like that to a lot of us. It’s like we don’t count.”
Follow Nico on Twitter at @Nico_Lang. Learn how to write for Quartz Ideas. We welcome your comments at

April 3, 2017

Democrats in Congress Plead with Trump to Count the LGBT Pop.

More than five-dozen Democrats in Congress urged the Trump administration in a letter on Friday to figure out how many LGBT people live in the United States when conducting the next Census, a proposal that had been considered and then scrapped earlier this week.

Lawmakers cited what they saw as hypocrisy on the part of John Thompson, director of the Census Bureau, who has said he wants a “complete and accurate census.”

“If this is indeed the goal, then the availability of data on the size, location, and circumstances of the LGBT population should be taken into account,” said the letter led by Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin along with Reps. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Adam Schiff of California.

“Additionally, we are deeply troubled that in follow-up statements, Director Thompson claims that the rationale for excluding LGBT identities is that there is no federal need for such information," they add, noting, "We write to express our strong disapproval of the Census Bureau’s decision."

The letter, which also asks about the American Community Survey, was also sent to Mick Mulvaney, who leads the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

Congressional Democrats and several federal agencies during the Obama era —including the Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice Departments — asked that questions about sexual orientation and gender identity be included along with dozens of other questions. A preliminary draft of questions released this week for the 2020 Census included them; however, a final draft sent to Congress on Tuesday did not.

The Census Bureau issued a statement the next day saying there was an "error" in the early draft, and that to count populations, officials needed "a clear statutory or regulatory need for data collection."

Censuses over the past decades have not asked about sexual orientation and gender identity. The next one will inquire about the marital status of single-sex couples, per a 2013 decision under former-president Obama, but the lawmakers on Friday said that is not enough.

“The fact remains that we know little else about the social and economic circumstances of the LGBT population at large,” their letter notes, adding that LGBT people disproportionately experience discrimination in housing and employment.

“There is also compelling evidence that many, particularly transgender people, are at greater risk of being victimized by violence and experience significant health disparities and vulnerability to poverty,” the lawmakers continue. “Expanded data collection on LGBT people is needed to help policymakers and community stakeholders understand the full extent of these disparities, as well as identifying the needs of these communities so they can be better served.”

The members of Congress ask the administration to explain their decision, “including justification for stating there being no federal need for data on the LGBT population.”

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