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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 21, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 29
Sen. Patty Murray introduces LGBT Data Collection Act
Section One
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Sen. Patty Murray introduces LGBT Data Collection Act

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington Senator Patty Murray has introduced legislation that would require federal agencies to collect and report data on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The LGBT Data Inclusion Act was introduced July 17 in both houses of Congress, with 95 Congress members signing on.

The measure applies to all federal agencies that collect survey information 'that includes demographic data where subjects either self-report information or a knowledgeable proxy provides information about the subject or responds for all persons in a household...'

In other words, any federal agency that collects data on the populations it serves would have to ask whether its clients identified as LGBT, and if they did, would have to report the data along with other data like racial or gender identification.

The bill does not require federal employees to make a judgment about a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, or to force their clients to out themselves. In fact, it includes provisions to protect the privacy of clients. It simply orders federal agencies to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity if they also ask about other characteristics, like race, sex, or country of origin.

Collection of such data is important because federal resources are usually allocated on the basis of need. One measure of need is how many people are actually in the population targeted by a particular program.

Because sexual orientation and gender identity have never been protected classes in federal law, federal agencies have historically neglected to collect data on them.

Under the Obama administration, the Census Bureau did try to count LGBT individuals, but questions that would allow them to do so have been eliminated from census reporting under the Trump regime.

The Obama-era Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also began an ambitious program of LGBT data collection as part of its plan to implement nondiscrimination mandates under the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare).

HHS also acknowledged its responsibility to collect data on Transgender individuals and committed to work with the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles and the Center for Population Research in LGBT Health at the Fenway Institute to develop concrete plans to do so.

The Trump-era HHS, under LGBT foe Tom Price, has halted collection of LGBT data, and the Republican Party as a whole is committed to repealing the ACA - presumably including its nondiscrimination provisions.

Trump's Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has also suppressed data about LGBT students.

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