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190 Organizations Call for LGBTQI Data Collection as National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Releases Historic Report on Measuring Sex, Sexual Orientation, & Gender Identity


Rebecca Farmer, Movement Advancement Project | 303-578-4600 ext 122

March 9, 2022—Today an ad hoc panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a groundbreaking consensus report focused on advancing data collection on sexual orientation, gender identity (SOGI), and sex, including variations in sex characteristics. The report synthesizes existing research, provides detailed recommendations about how to ask these questions, outlines key principles for advancing inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTQI) people, and articulates areas for further research.  The report emphasizes that improved and standardized data collection is vital for understanding the challenges LGBTQI people face.  

In response to this groundbreaking report, 190 LGBTQI and allied organizations today released an open letter calling for renewed efforts to advance SOGI and intersex data inclusion on surveys, in administrative data, and in clinical settings. (The open letter can be accessed here.)

Data collected by private research firms suggest that there are over 13 million LGBTQ people in the United States, and the population is growing notably. Scientific estimates suggest as many as 2-5 million Americans were born with intersex traits.

The following can be attributed to Naomi Goldberg, Deputy Director & LGBTQ Policy Director of the Movement Advancement Project:
This report is a watershed moment for LGBTQI inclusion in data collection. When LGBTQI people are not seen and counted for who we are, the challenges we experience are rendered invisible and public policies often don’t reflect our needs. The report makes clear that federal agencies can and should ask questions about sexual orientation, gender identity, and variations in sex characteristics in order to better serve LGBTQI people. 
For far too long, our country's largest surveys like the Census and the American Community Survey have overlooked LGBTQI people because they haven’t included questions about sexual orientation or gender identity. 
Today's report provides detailed recommendations about how to add these questions to surveys and the critical importance of doing so. I am excited to work alongside advocates, policymakers, researchers, and the Biden Administration to fulfill the promise of data equity by having these questions added to our country's surveys that shape policy, influence where dollars are spent, and provide vital data about people's experiences.


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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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