Be Proud, Be Seen, Be Counted
What is the Census and why does it matter?
Every ten years our federal government administers the U.S. Census to count the total number of people residing in the United States. The U.S. Constitution requires the Census to be administered every ten years. They use this count to determine how to allocate funds for schools, hospitals, and roads, as well as programs like Medicaid, public housing, and food stamps. The count is also used to make sure that our federal, state, and local elected officials are each representing roughly the same number of people. When communities have low participation in the Census, they stand to lose funding for community services and have fewer elected officials representing. For each person not counted in the 2020 Census,
Why should I participate?
In the 2010 U.S. Census, it is estimated that 16 million people weren’t counted correctly. Those undercounted people were disproportionately those who experience oppression, who lack visibility. Being counted means being heard. It means having our needs met. That’s why the LGBT community cannot stand to be an undercounted population any longer.
Participation in the Census directly impacts funding for community services--from hospitals and affordable housing to schools and public infrastructure. Many of these services are especially critical to our community. Medicaid and SNAP benefits each support more than 1 in 5 LGBT households. For each person not counted in the 2020 Census, Pennsylvania could lose an average of $2,093 per year in federal funds for these essential programs and services.
How can I participate?
Households can respond to the Census online, by phone, or by mail. Only one response should be submitted per household. To participate online, visit https://my2020census.gov. Note that if you cannot find your 12 digit Census ID number, you can still participate online by inputting your street address. To respond by phone, call 844-330-2020. You can also visit the Census website to look up phone numbers to call for different languages (https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-by-phone.html). To respond by mail, mail back the paper questionnaire sent to your home.
What will the government do with the information they collect?
The Census will ask for your address; your phone number; the number of people that live with you; and whether you rent, own, or occupy the residence. For each person living in the house, the Census will ask for their name, sex, age/DOB, race and ethnicity, and their relationship to you. The Census will NOT ask for anyone’s immigration status. The data is collected by the US Census Bureau and legally cannot be shared with any other government agency, business, or persons.
How are LGBT people represented through the Census?
LGBT people have historically been a hard-to-count population, meaning that we have not been fully represented. This may be in part due to challenges more common in our community, such as homelessness, high mobility, and distrust of the government.
The Census does not explicitly ask about respondents’ sexual orientation or gender identity. However, those who are living with a same-sex spouse or partner can document their relationship to that household member. Further, the National LGBTQ Task Force advises that respondents are encouraged to report their self-identified name and gender. For those who do not identify as either male or female, it is acceptable to leave the question blank. Census responses will not be checked against any other legal documents.
While there are limits to LGBT visibility in the Census, we know that members of our community live at the intersection of many different identities. People of color, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness*, people in rural communities, low-income people, and single-parent households are all hard-to-count populations too. It is essential that we be proud, be seen, and be counted to represent all facets of ourselves and our communities.
*Those who are experiencing homelessness can use the intersection nearest to where they spend the majority of their time in lieu of a street address.
Who can I ask for help?
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is proud to offer assistance to anyone with questions or concerns about completing the Census. Please reach out to Katie Suppes at email@example.com for help.
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center’s U.S. Census Outreach is supported by the Library Census Equity Fund at the American Library Association and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development