Queering the Census

Getting out the count in LGBTQ communities

by Meghan Maury, Raima Roy, and Glenn Magpantay

The census is a vital data collecting tool that enables us to have data on communities to better serve them and provide them with the resources they need. It also gives minority groups a voice by allowing their members to be visible. This blog discusses attitudes and awareness of the census within the LGBTQ community, issues facing the community, and available language resources for Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the LGBTQ community.

Demographic Characteristics of LGBTQ Americans

The LGBTQ community is diverse and includes people from a wide spectrum of ethnicities, generations, and income levels. Among the LGBTQ population, 40 percent are from racial minority groups and 7 percent of millennials identify as LGBTQ. Poverty rates are higher among same-sex couples, where black and Hispanic same-sex couples face the highest rates of poverty. Food insecurity is highest among Native American LGBTQ adults with more than 50 percent of the population not having enough to eat. Within the transgender and gender nonconforming community, black and Latino populations face higher levels of poverty.

There are an estimated of 904,000 LGBTQ adult immigrants in the United States today, where 30 percent of the population is undocumented.

LGBTQ Community and the 2020 Census

So how does the census account for the LGBTQ population? We haven’t reached the point where the census asks about a person’s sex or gender, but it does ask about same-sex couples who live together. This is progress for the LGBTQ community as data on the community is crucial to making sure that they receive resources. However, this question does not account for same-sex couple who do not live together, nor does it account for single LGBTQ people or transgender people, meaning that the census will not capture complete data on the LGBTQ community.

When people in the community were asked whether they would respond to the 2020 Census, less than half said they would, meaning that LGBTQ groups have their work cut out for them in terms of Get out the Count efforts.

There are several misconceptions about the census within the LGBTQ community that could potentially be the reason for this average response rate. About 14 percent of the population doesn’t know that the census is used to count people regardless of immigration status, 12 percent are unaware that the census is used to determine how much funding communities get from the government, and 10 percent think that the census is used to locate people living in the country without documentation.

Most people don’t have a favorable attitude towards the census, where much like other communities, a majority of LGBTQ folks don’t trust the government and almost one third have concerns over confidentiality of their answers.

Like most communities, the LGBTQ community is diverse, with people from varying socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. Many in the population depend on government resources such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), and more. However, if they are unaware of the importance of the census and the impact it could have on them and their families, they will lose out on these resources. With the 2020 Census fast approaching, it’s crucial for LGBTQ communities to be educated about why it’s important for them to be counted accurately.


Our partners at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance will provide multilingual census resources catered specifically for the LGBTQ Asian American and Pacific Islander community in English, Chinese, Korean, and Hindi and potentially a few more languages. Please stay tuned for these resources.

For state factsheets on the LGBTQ and Census 2020, information on the National LGBTQ Census Coalition and more, please check out QueertheCensus.org

Meghan Maury is the policy director at the National LGBTQ Task Force, Raima Roy is the census and civic engagement program associate at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, and Glenn Magpantay is the executive director at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance.



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Advancing Justice – AAJC

Fighting for civil rights for all and working to empower #AsianAmericans to participate in our democracy.