When the data from the American Community Survey, or ACS was recently released they offered a treasure trove of new information about the state of America today. However, important data on the needs & concerns of LGBT Americans were once again be missing. Senior Fellow Kellan Baker of the Center for American Progress stated, “The annual release of the ACS is a reminder of how little data are collected on the needs of the LGBT community. With at least 9 million Americans identifying as LGBT as of 2011 & myriad recent changes taking place that affect this population—from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality to open military service to the growing visibility of the transgender population—accurate data about what it’s like to be an LGBT person in the United States today are indispensable. Without these data, it is hard to know what kinds of policies should be put in place to better serve LGBT communities & to assess the effectiveness of those policies already in place. It’s time LGBT Americans were counted.” Each year U.S. federal agencies that include the departments of Commerce, Labor, Health & Human Services, Justice, Education & Veterans Affairs field surveys such as the ACS in order to help all levels of government understand the needs of local communities, tailor policies & programs accordingly & enforce nondiscrimination laws such as the Civil Rights Act, among other uses. Timely & comprehensive demographic data from these surveys on sexual orientation & gender identity would be immensely valuable in efforts to understand and address issues such as unemployment, poverty & barriers to health care among the LGBT population.
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