two people standing together

Everything Census

It’s a ten-question survey. It will be available online, by phone, or by mail and the head of the household will get your own personalized code to fill out information for your household. There will be extra space at the end of the survey where you can add each person in your household.
For LGBTQ+ people it is important for us to be counted even if our authentic gender identity and sexual orientation is not counted. There are 3 main reasons why we need to be counted, otherwise known as the 3 D’s: Democracy: Census data is used to divvy up seats in Congress and at the state level Decisions: Local governments and NGOs use Census data to determine services Dollars: About 300 federal programs allocate over $800 billion a year based on stats that are derived from the census.
Reapportionment happens following the census and is the process that decides how many seats a state has in the House of Representatives. If the population of a state raises or lowers dramatically, your state could receive more or less representation in the House as a result. Redistricting is the process of dividing up a state into districts based on how many seats the state has. Districts are also drawn using census data for state legislative bodies. Redistricting should keep communities together, which is not possible without an accurate census that tells us where people are. Census data is also used to work on Civil Rights issues including determining if states are violating the Civil Rights Act in housing, employment, or education. Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act also heavily relies on information that is gathered in the census. Bottom line: being undercounted deprives communities of equal political representation and makes our democracy look less like us.
About 300 federal programs allocate over $800 billion a year based on stats that are derived from the census. This funding includes money on infrastructure and roads, health care, schools, and more. The more accurate the census count is in your community, the more likely your community is to get the resources that it needs and deserves to serve community members. We’re talking about programs like Medicaid and Medicare, State Children’s Health Insurance Program, Foster Care and Adoption Assistance, and Child Care and Development Fund. Even if LGBTQ+ community members are not fully counted around their gender identity or sexual orientation, if you are counted where you live the more resources will land in your community.
Census data is used to work on Civil Rights issues including determining if states are violating the Civil Rights Act in housing, employment, or education. Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act also heavily relies on information that is gathered in the census.

Fill Out The Census

Legally, you’re required to fill out every question on the Census, but one skipped question is unlikely to prompt a visit from an enumerator. But if a household skips multiple questions it is more likely an enumerator will visit to complete your household information. If you skip one questions the Census Bureau may fill in your information using an algorithm. It’s best to fill in the questions how you want to be counted (because the Census can’t look any further than that).
Legally, you’re required to fill out every question on the Census, but one skipped question is unlikely to prompt a visit from an enumerator. But if a household skips multiple questions it is more likely an enumerator will visit to complete your household information. If you skip one questions the Census Bureau may fill in your information using an algorithm. It’s best to fill in the questions how you want to be counted (because the Census can’t look any further than that).
Queer people talking about the importance of the 2020 census

Is The Census Safe

Title 13 is one of the most powerful laws in the nation and protects information from being shared across departments and government entities. After 72 years, they can share individual Census data – before 72 years, they can only share aggregated data. The idea by the 72 years is that that is the average lifespan, so your information should be protected for the average lifespan.

Trans/NonBinary

The US Trans Survey, conducted the National Center for Transgender Equality, is the largest trans survey conducted in the United States. The National Center for Transgender Equality are still determining when the US Trans Survey will be distributed.
In 2017 the Census Bureau issued a statement after mistakenly publishing LGBTQ questions in an outline, that they had "carefully considered" this question, as well a request from congress, to include these questions, consulting with "with federal agencies and the OMB Interagency Working Group on Measuring Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity", and had concluded that they did not need this data. There is a report on the census bureau's website having interviewed 29 transgender individuals from various focus groups to talk at length about the idea of including us in the census. Their conclusion seems to be that it would be complicated to do it, but emphasize their limitations significantly.
The Census form does not reflect gender identity and only provides two options for gender - female and male. The goal of the Census is to accurately count all people living in the U.S. iIndividuals may identity with the gender that best or partially represents them. If an individual lacks the legal documents that affirms the gender that they are, it is important to know that the Census does not cross-check data with any other source, so there is no risk to identifying as the gender that best fits you. Any effort to accurately report information on our community is a success!
two people talking about the census

Queer Relationships

The Census includes multiple options to identify same-sex partners in a single household in Question 3 of additional Person sections. This includes “same-sex husband/wife/spouse,” “same-sex unmarried partner,” “opposite-sex husband/wife/spouse,” and “opposite-sex unmarried partner” so your relationship can be counted even if you are not legally married. Unfortunately, there are not yet options to identify as non-binary.
If your spouse or partner does not live with you, you will not be counted together and your relationship will not be recorded. The goal of the Census is to accurately count all people living in the U.S. where they generally live and sleep on April 1, 2020. Count all the people who live and sleep at that address most of the time. Do not include anyone who does not live at your address on your Census 2020 form, as they will be counted at their own address. If you and your partner have separate homes, then you will not be counted together. Relationships are only recorded between members of the same household – that is, only people who reside at the same address on a regular basis.
It is possible to identify multiple partners on your Census form, provided that you all live in the same household (i.e. at the same address). For example, for the Person 2 and Person 3 sections, you would be able to select for each if they are a spouse or unmarried partner. While the Census is intended to respect how people self-identify on its forms, the Bureau remains largely unaware of polyamorous couples and could potentially re-classify a response to only count the first two respondents as partners. The Census does not cross-check data with any other source, so there is no risk to identifying as a polyamorous household and any effort to accurately report information on our community is a success!

Organizations, like the LGBT National Task Force, have been advocating for the inclusion of a gender identity and sexual orientation questions on the 2020 Census. Under the Obama Administration, this advocacy was making progress.

“At the tail end of the Obama administration, it seems poised to happen. In April 2016, 78 members of Congress wrote to the Census Bureau asking for expanded data collection on LGBTQ+ Americans. Four federal agencies — most important, the Department of Justice — made formal petitions to the Bureau to include a question about sexual orientation and gender identity. The Census Bureau had conducted its review of the proposal and was about to begin the extensive testing questions must undergo before they appear in Americans’ mailboxes.” (Gabriel Arana, them. Magazine, April 9th, 2018) https://www.them.us/story/census-will-not-count-lgbtq-americans

In March of 2017, under the Trump Administration, the inclusion was rescinded.

Because of the win of Marriage Equity in 2013 married same-sex couples and partnered same-sex couples will be counted.

If your spouse or partner does not live with you, you will not be counted together and your relationship will not be recorded. The goal of the Census is to accurately count all people living in the U.S. where they generally live and sleep on April 1, 2020. Count all the people who live and sleep at that address most of the time. Do not include anyone who does not live at your address on your Census 2020 form, as they will be counted at their own address. If you and your partner have separate homes, then you will not be counted together. Relationships are only recorded between members of the same household – that is, only people who reside at the same address on a regular basis.

Queer Families

If you live with your chosen family, your polyamourous family, your kink family or any other formation of your family or “complex household”, the Census Bureau respects your self-agency to self identity. For example, for chosen family, it’s likely that “other nonrelative” is the category that best fits. However, it may not feel good to reduce such a relationship to that category. While we work with the Bureau to improve this question for future surveys, the most important thing to remember for now is that you should count everyone in your household, even if you do not have a close relationship to them. Ultimately, the Census Bureau does not have the capacity to track down family relationships. The Census does not cross track with any other data. The intent of the Census is to respect how people self-identify.
If you have a foster child, you can count your foster child in the relationship section. There is a “Foster child” response available. My foster child is about to be reunited with their birth family or is moving to a new foster family soon. Do I count them in the census? If your foster child is sleeping at your house when you fill out the census then you count your foster child as part of your household.
The goal of the Census is to accurately count all adults and children living in the U.S. where they generally live and sleep on April 1, 2020. Count all adults and children who live and sleep at that address most of the time. Do not include anyone who does not live at your address on your Census 2020 form, as they will be counted at their own address. With that being said, if you share custody 50/50 then count any children who are sleeping at your home on April 1st, 2020. If you share custody with people/person for more than 51% then count your child/ren on your Census 2020 form.

Race/Ethnicity

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) makes the ultimate decisions on the race/ethnicity question. OMB established the Interagency Committee for the Review of the Racial and Ethnic Standards to give recommendations on updating the race/ethnicity question. The Interagency Committee for the Review of the Racial and Ethnic Standards did provide updated recommendations as did the U.S. Census Bureau. The Office of Management and Budget did not respond to the recommendations by December 31st 2017 deadline, so for the most part the 2020 race/ethnicity question remains the same as in 2010. There are two exceptions: Individuals who identify as White, Black/African American, and/or American Indian or Alaska Native will be asked to specifically identify their racial origins. As outlined in the planned Census 2020 question, Black/African American individuals, for example, will be asked to print their specific origin (e.g. African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somali, etc.). Write in options will still be available for “Other Asian” and “Some other race” categories. All Federal statistical agencies, including the Census Bureau, must adhere to the 1997 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity.
No! The Trump administration has previously insisted it wants to add the question because the responses can be used to better enforce Voting Rights Act protections against discrimination of racial and language minorities. But a Federal Judge in New York has rejected that explanation as a "sham justification," and a Judge in California wrote that including the question "threatens the very foundation of our democratic system." A majority of the Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts and kept the question blocked from the census because they found that the administration's reasoning appeared "contrived."
Queers learning about the census

Accessibility

The census is available online, in paper form or you can call in and answer the census questions for your household. Braille and large print guides will be available to respondents to assist with self-response. The Census Bureau plans to disseminate print guides through their partnership programs. Contact us, the Queer the Census Washington coalition, if you need help with this! The Census form is available in 13 languages; video guides will be available in 59 languages, including an American Sign Language video guide. Forms, advertisements and outreach materials will include materials in: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese Language guides (translated unofficial form with translated instructions + video guide to form) and glossaries will be available in: Spanish, Haitian Creole, Bengali, Romanian, Tamil, Tigrinya, Igbo, Chinese, Portuguese, Greek, Telugu, Navajo, Ilocano, Marathi, Vietnamese, Japanese, Amharic, Burmese, Hungarian, Dutch, Sinhala, Korean, Italian, Somali, Punjabi, Hebrew, Croatian, Slovak, Russian, Farsi, Thai, Lao, Malayalam, Bulgarian, American Sign Language, Arabic, German, Gjurati, Hmong, Swahili, Twi, Tagalog, Armenian, Khmer, Albanian, Yiddish, Lithuanian, Polish, Hindi, Nepali, Turkish, Indonesian, Yoruba, French, Ukrainian, Urdu, Bosnian, Serbian, Czech The call centers will utilize Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) technology and their telephone number will be included on the postcards mailed to every household.

Housing

If you are homeless on the streets, ask the location where you receive services if they have arranged for or know of a targeted location in your area. (see Service Based Enumerators below) If you are homeless and live in a shelter you will be counted through Group Quarters operation. People living in GQs do not self-respond online, by phone, or by returning a paper questionnaire by mail. Instead, the census field staff will collect data using special GQ enumeration methods. These methods include the following: Electronic Data Transfer: The Electronic Response Data Transfer (eResponse) enumeration is available to specific GQ types. The method allows administrators of GQs to electronically transfer requested respondent-level data to the Census Bureau in a standardized template. In-Person Interviews: Depending on the type of GQ, Census workers or a sworn-in GQ administrator may conduct in-person interviews with individuals residing there. Paper Questionnaires & Listings: Census workers may also drop off and pick up modified paper questionnaires, called Individual Census Reports, to be completed by each person staying at the GQ. Alternatively, census workers may collect paper listings with respondent-level data from the GQ administrator. Service-Based Enumeration: People experiencing homelessness will be counted at the places where they receive services, including shelters and meal centers, and at targeted outdoor locations, over a three-day period starting on March 30 and ending on April 1, 2020. Census staff will contact GQ administrators ahead of time to set an agreed-upon date, time, and preferred method for the enumeration.
If you live in a household of renters or an apartment of renters, one person fills out the census and then fills out information about the rest of one’s housemates or roommates and identify their relationship to you. Your landlord will not fill out, nor should fill out your census for you. And your landlord or property manager will not be privy to the information you share. So if you have more people in your home then is agreed upon, please count everyone. Your landlord/property manager has no access to your census information. Transitory occupants – people whose “usual home” at the time of the census is transitory or mobile – are also at heightened risk of being undercounted in the 2020 Census. In addition to sharing some of the characteristics listed above, transitory occupants tend to live in hard-to-reach locales (e.g., hotels, motels, marinas, racetracks, circuses, carnivals, campgrounds, and RV parks). Furthermore, the Census Bureau will not automatically visit every motel and hotel and instead will conduct a special “transitory enumeration” that relies upon assistance from local officials and community advocates in identifying temporary transitory locations, such as motels that now house families displaced by economic distress.

Other

Boarding school students below the college level should be counted at the home of their parents or guardians. College students who are living at home should be counted at their home address. The U.S. Census Bureau includes college residence halls as part of their Group Quarter (GQ) target groups. Right now, it plans to send post cards with information on how to complete the Census online. The Bureau wants the students’ e-responses completed between April 1, 2020, and May 12, 2020. If necessary, it will follow up with paper data collection options. Individuals can have until July 31, 2020 to complete the online Census Survey. A question for many students may be, “What is my usual residence?” Is it my dorm or my parents’ home?” Students should count themselves separately from their families on April 1, 2020, if they are living away from home. More info: https://asicalstatela.org/sites/default/files/content/upload/2019/07/census-2020-toolkit-administrators.pdf U.S. college students who are living and attending college outside the United States are not counted in the census. Foreign students living and attending college in the United States should be counted as part of their Group Quarter (GQ) target group where they live and sleep most of the time.
People who are living in any of the following on April 1, 2020, should be counted at the facility: Correctional residential facilities, Federal detention centers, Federal and state prisons, Local jails and other municipal confinement facilities.
Two queers who care about helping our community be counted!
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Census At My House

The Census Bureau will only visit your household if you do not self-respond either online, by mail, or by phone. You will receive reminders from the Census Bureau before you are visited. Timeline for Census worker’s visits: May – July 2020 Conduct non-response follow-up: Census enumerators visit addresses from the Census Master Address File that did not complete a Census questionnaire and collect information at the door. May – July 2020 Conduct non-response follow-up re-interview. Watch this video about Census workers: https://www.census.gov/about/regions/denver/contact/identify.html How to identify a Census worker: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b9012299772ae95969d6c92/t/5deaac598f9c311c814f568c/1575660633548/FACTSHEET+-+How+to+Identify+a+Census+Taker.pdf
If someone visits your home to collect information for the 2020 Census, you can do the following to verify their identity: First, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. If you still have questions about their identity, you can contact your Regional Census Center, 213-314-6500 (this is the number the Los Angeles Regional Office that includes Washington State) to speak with a Census Bureau representative. Watch this video about Census workers: https://www.census.gov/about/regions/denver/contact/identify.html