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At Least Two Virginia Lawmakers Want LGBTQ-Related Questions on the 2020 Census

AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

As 2020 draws closer, the debate in Washington about the Census is heating up.

At the tail end of the Obama administration, a handful of federal agencies asked the Census Bureau to add questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. The idea was that the numbers would help the Department of Justice fight hate crimes or Housing and Human Services fight housing discrimination.

James Parrish at Equality Virginia says data is the key to helping fight injustice. 

“The key to good policy is good data, and unfortunately for the LGBTQ community, data and gay on transgender people is very sparse,” says Parrish.

Victoria Cobb at the Family Foundation says adding these two questions to the Census would be a mistake because it would open the door to more and more questions in the future. 

“With an ever-expanding limitless list of self-determined identities, how will the Census Bureau ever be able to keep up?”

An earlier version of the bill attracted 102 co-sponsors in 2016. The latest version of the LGBTQ Data Inclusion Act has 123 co-sponsors, including Bobby Scott and Donald McEachin.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.