By Juancarlos Soto, Director of Case Management & Support Services

Every ten years, the federal government attempts to count every person living in the US for the Census. The 2020 Decennial Census, also known as the short-form Census, will take a snapshot of all people living in the US on April 1, 2020. The census data collected is used to redraw district lines and distribute seats within the house of representatives. It determines funding of social service programs for each state, programs like Medicaid, Section 8 housing vouchers and the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP). In Connecticut, the state is likely to receive close to three thousand dollars per person counted on the Census. 

The Census goal of counting everyone in the US comes with a history of severely undercounting populations. LGBTQ+ people are overwhelmingly undercounted in the US Census. The 2020 Census aims to be the most accessible Census to date with self-reporting options growing with the advancement of technology. This year’s Census is the first high-tech Census allowing people living in the US to self-respond via the Internet, smartphone and InternetInternet enabled smart devices. 

The 2020 Census comes with some challenges that cannot be ignored for members of the LGBTQ+ community. When looking at some of the questions and response choices within the 2020 Census, queer and transgender people may find that who they are, and their lives aren’t precisely represented. The National LGBTQ+ task force has been working to add questions about sexual orientation and gender identity so that our community has access to see their lives better reflected. Unfortunately in the 2020 Census our community will not be fully counted. However, The National LGBTQ+ Taskforce emphasizes the importance of being counted on the Census. 

So that our communities have fair and accurate political representation and enough money for the social service programs that so many LGBTQ+ people rely on. The National Taskforce also suggests that we keep the following in mind when filling out the Census: 

  • The Census is confidential, the Census Bureau is prohibited from sharing data identifying individuals from the Census surveys with ANYONE. 
  • The data on individual people can only be released publicly after 72 years after the information was collected. 
  • Keep in mind that the Bureau respects how people self-identify on the Census. So keeping that in mind, answer as best as you can with how you self-identify. 
  • The Census does not cross-check information you may provide on the survey with any other source; this includes birth certificates or driver’s licenses. Know that it is ok to respond differently on the Census than how you would typically answer an official government survey.

We encourage all individuals to make an effort to self-report. Self-reporting is estimated to take about 10 minutes.  If you have not filled out the Census online, by mail, or by phone by late April 2020, the Bureau will send an enumerator to your house to attempt to collect a response from you. 

It is vital that the LGBTQ+ community not be undercounted in the 2020 census. The data from the Census will have an impact for the next ten years. Our communities and our lives depend on the programs that are funded based on the Census data. Our access to democracy depends on our full representation in the Census data as well. So let us #QueerTheCensus and not let them count us out!

Thank you to special funding from the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the New Haven Pride Center will be participating in the 2020 Census as a counting location. Anyone interested in filling out their online census form can come and utilize our new computer lab in our LGBTQ+ Library. Got questions? You can contact Juancarlos at jcsoto@newhavenpridecenter.org.