A mural of the Rainbow PRIDE Flag overlays the USA flag
A mural of the Rainbow PRIDE Flag overlays the USA flag

Erasing Rainbows – LGBTQI+ Americans deleted from 2020 Census

How do you erase people? Delete them from the Census.

After a long campaign to include questions regarding gender identity and sexual preference on the census, it appeared the fight had been won. Including the metrics would after all allow the question of how many people identified with these communities do in fact exist. With guesstimates ranging from 2% to 10%, a true accounting of the number of LGBTQI+ has never been taken, a reality only ever truly solvable by inclusion in the once a decade census.

“If the government doesn’t know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need?” Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director at the National LGBTQ Task Force

Everything from government funding to departmental policy relies on census data to best serve the U.S. public. LGBTQI+ communities, representing some of the most marginalized individuals in our citizenry, were elated when a section regarding Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation appeared in the appendix of topics to be added to the 2020 questioner by the Census Bureau. The section disappeared from the Census Bureau’s website this week, prompting the National LGBTQ Task Force to publish a side by side comparison of of the census plan. 

Graphic showing the removal of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity from the proposed sections of the 2020 Census
Illustration: The National LGBTQ Task Force Http://Www.Thetaskforce.Org/Sexual-Orientation-And-Gender-Identity-Erased-From-2020-Census-And-The-American-Community-Survey-Acs/

The Census Bureau’s removal of the section was addressed in a blog post by its director calling their inclusion in the first place “an error.” The removal prompted questions to both the Census Bureau and the White House. Both institutions have maintained that the LGBTQI+ section’s inclusion in the appendix was unintended with the White House responding wryly to a question from NBC News,  “Since this simply is a mistake, as Commerce explained in their statement, we won’t be commenting any further.” The Census Bureau’s response in a statement to NBC News parroted the issue as a closed topic. 

“The Subjects Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey report released today inadvertently listed sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic in the appendix. This topic is not being proposed to Congress for the 2020 Census or American Community Survey. The report has been corrected.”

If the Sexual Preference and Gender Identity section remains “an error”, the LGBTQI+ community will remain invisible until our next chance at being counted in 2030. The National LGBTQ Task Force has called for a congressional review. 


TAKE ACTION – What you can do

  • Write to your Congressional Representatives asking that a section on Sexual Preference and Gender Identity be included in the 2020 Census. Click Here for an easy way to email your representatives. 
  • Send a message to the Census Bureau telling them to count the LGBTQI+ community. Click Here
  • Donate to the LGBTQ Task Force to continue the fight for visibility and inclusion of this historically marginalized community. 


“Cascadia Underground’s leadership team is proud to represent a wide variety of Cascadian voices. With more than half of our organizing team comprised of people of color, and also including non-gender conforming and LGBTQ+ individuals, Cascadia Underground seeks to be an active example of its commitment to strengthening diversity within the Cascadia movement.” – Brandon Letsinger, Cascadia Underground Founder

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