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Census Bureau Wants LGBTQ+ Americans to Be Counted

Female couple
Photo by Felipe Balduino from Pexels

Phase 3.2 of the bureau's Household Pulse Survey asks about sexual orientation and gender identity, the first time such questions have been included.

It's time for LGBTQ+ Americans to be counted.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Thursday that its Household Pulse Survey is now asking respondents their sexual orientation and gender identity in addition to their sex.

The questions are part of Phase 3.2 of the survey, the latest update to an experimental data collection effort to measure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on American households, a Census Bureau blog post explains. This marks the first time the bureau has asked these questions, although the Census has counted same-sex households. The bureau considered adding queries about sexual orientation and gender identity a few years ago but ultimately did not do so. LGBTQ+ activists have long been advocating for inclusion of such questions.

Distribution of the questionnaires began July 21 and is expected to continue through October 11. Some results will be released next week, however, according to the blog post.

Earlier versions of the survey asked respondents if they were male or female. Phase 3.2 instead asks if they were assigned male or female at birth and if they currently describe themselves as male, female, transgender, or none of those choices.

About sexual orientation, the new phase asks, "Which of the following best represents how you think of yourself?" The answers to choose from are gay or lesbian; straight, that is, not gay or lesbian; bisexual; something else; and don't know.

The survey will also include new questions about currently relevant topics such as COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine hesitancy, and the new child tax credit, while some questions deemed less relevant have been removed, so the new queries won't increase the time it takes to answer.

The survey is sent to about a million households every two weeks. Those selected will receive an email from or a text message from 39242. Additional information is available on the HPS respondent website.

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