The GSBA Blog

Queer the Census

by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
| Oct 02, 2019
With so much discussion of the thankfully now-abandoned “citizenship question” in the news recently, it should be no surprise that 2020 Census is fast approaching.

IMG_3047The decennial Census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution to accurately count the number of people living in the country in order to fairly distribute public resources (i.e. tax funds) and to redraw electoral districts of equivalent sizes at all scales of government. The law requires that everyone living in the U.S. fill out the Census. Being counted is critical – it shows the proper size of communities across the country, and helps public agencies and advocates better support their constituents and clients. There are only 10 questions on the Census, and eight additional questions for each person living in that household.

GSBA is actively working with many partners to ensure that our communities are counted. GSBA sits on the Washington State Complete Count Committee, the Seattle Complete Count Committee, and the King County LGBTQ Census Coalition. There will be outreach to and education for small businesses around the state later in the year on how they can help raise awareness and answer questions.

Why should LGBTQ people care about the Census?

As the National LGBTQ Task Force explains, “Although the goal of the Census is toIMG_2835 count everyone living in the U.S., certain populations are inevitably undercounted. Transgender and queer people, LGB people, people of color, immigrants, people who are experiencing homelessness, renters, people living in rural areas, people with low incomes, single-parent households, people with limited English proficiency, and young children are overwhelmingly undercounted in the Census. To ensure fair access to democracy and social services funding, it is important for our community to be accurately counted in the 2020 Census.”

The 2010 Census was the first time that any LGBTQ people were able to be included in Census data, but that was only for same-sex married couples. For 2020, data on unmarried same-sex couples who reside together will also be captured. This still leaves out many sides of our community, including bisexual, transgender, and gender-diverse people, as well as LGBTQ people not in the specific types of relationships enumerated on the form. While the Census may not yet accurately capture the relationships in your household, it is important that every person in your household be counted. LGBTQ people exist within all other different populations that are routinely undercounted and underserved, and it is critical for us to be counted in 2020.


Important Points to Remember about the Census:

  • The Census is confidential and no data on individuals can be shared with anyone for 72 years

  • The Census respects how you self-identify (they do not cross-check with other federal forms)

  • If you do not fill out the Census form by late April 2020, an enumerator will be sent to your house to collect a response from you in-person. To avoid this, fill out your Census survey early.

  • The Trump administration’s proposed citizenship question was denied by the Supreme Court, and the President abandoned his efforts to add it. Census forms have already gone to print without the citizenship question.

  • Being counted means being heard. It means having our needs met.