Stand Up and Be Counted: A Guide to US Census 2020 and Why It Matters
Now that Pride month is officially over, we can all stop openly showing our support, right? I mean, look how many people were at all the Pride parades. They couldn’t possibly need any more help.
Wrong, babe. Now that Pride month is officially over, we can now put all of our focus and effort into a new campaign to raise awareness about Count the Nation which not only benefits our LGBTQIA friends, but also those who don’t get a lot of attention. This includes children, minorities (especially non-English speakers), millennials, highly mobile persons, and the elderly.
For those of you who are in the dark (like I was a week ago), Count the Nation is a campaign in response to an action that President Trump took as soon as he took office in 2017. First, here’s a little background.
In 1990, a single question about a “same-sex unmarried partner” was asked on the federal decennial survey. This marked the first year that the federal government allowed any questions regarding sexual orientation to be asked. Twenty years later, in 2010, the US Census still did not have any questions regarding sexual orientation, so a group similar to Count the Nation called The Task Force started a campaign that encouraged all who identified as LGBTQ to slap a “Queer the Census” sticker on the packets when they mailed them back.
Since then, the Obama administration along with four federal agencies made requests to include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the US Census. Now, back to President Trump. As soon as he was elected, he removed all of those questions from consideration for the 2020 Census. According to the former Census Bureau Director John Thompson, there was no “federal data need” for the LGBTQIA community.
But when you think about it, that makes no sense. The US Census is used to collect data in order to allocate money to certain communities. This money goes to food stamps, education, hospitals, and elderly care centers. While it may seem that questions about sexual orientation have nothing to do with these issues, Count the Nation and many other organizations are here to speak up and say that isn’t true. Those types of questions help gather important statistics. For example, according to a Daily Beast article, Samuel Garrett-Pate, communications director at Equality California, states that only “one out of every five same-sex households relies on SNAP (food stamps) funding to feed their families.” This means that the LGBTQIA community relies less on federal assistance than the average American.
This type of information is important because we could be shutting off a part of our nation because we aren’t asking the right kind of questions. Each person is unique and therefore requires unique care, so it seems wrong to group everyone together in a giant clump. And if we clump everyone together, we might miss out on much needed federal funding. According to Yasmin Naboa, senior adviser with Count the Nation, “There is approximately $2,000 associated with each person each year. Over 10 years, that $20,000 that the government does not reallocate back to your community.” That means less money for education, healthcare, and all those issues I mentioned earlier, all because there were simply no questions about you specifically on the census. And there’s no spaces to write in answers, so the multiple choice answers you are given is what you must choose from.
Are you seeing why this is so important?
Now, even if you aren’t a member of the LGBTQIA community, you still need to speak up. There’s a reason those types of questions are being erased from the census and it’s because the government, specifically the administration sitting in power right now, isn’t listening to members of that community. The good thing is that we live in a media driven society, so participating in this campaign is easy.
Count the Nation is currently working with Census Bureau to educate the public about the 2020 Census, so your main issue is with the Trump administration because they are who ultimately has the most say so. Let’s be honest though, it probably won’t do you much good tagging him on Twitter and chewing him out. He lives for that and it probably wouldn’t hurt his ego too much. What you can do is join the movement created by Count the Nation and make a video explaining why these types of questions are important to every community and use the hashtags #standupbecounted and #everybodycounts. This is a simple way to educate those around you who may not be aware of this issue.
You can also share videos uploaded by influencers like Kyle Thomas (writer and astrologer), Chris Salvatore (musician and actor), Jazzmyne Jay (plus-size model, activist, and producer), and Sam Tsui (musician and YouTuber). According to Naboa, “Our efforts now are centered on motivating people to create shareable digital content that motivates their personal circle of friends to participate in Census 2020.” You have no idea how your words can impact your community, even if you aren’t a member of the LGBTQIA community. The point is to reach as many people as you can and hope that they join you.
But if you feel like social media isn’t enough, you can also contact the Census Bureau as well by clicking on the link and letting them know your opinion. If enough people do this, we can’t be ignored. It’s important that we stand up for those who are ignored or pushed aside because their data is “not needed.” Let your local government officials know that that kind of thinking is absurd and this is 2019 damn it! (Maybe don’t curse at them but you get my point.) The fact that we’re still fighting on issues like this is ridiculous and we shouldn’t let ourselves be pushed down. So, join Count the Nation and all those other organizations fighting for this cause because your voice matters and so do the softer voices.
I got my information from Daily Beast, as well as from interviews with Kyle Thomas and Yasmin Naboa.
Cover image Coin Desk