“Count us, Don’t Erase Us!” LGBT Asian Groups Complain to U.S. Census Bureau

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Jan 27, 2020
For More Information: Roberta Sklar 917-704-6358, robertasklar@yahoo.com

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), joined by 33 local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (API) organizations, complained to the U.S. Census Bureau about dire problems that they anticipate for the decennial Census. 

Glenn D. Magpantay, NQAPIA Executive Director, said “We want to be counted, not erased, by the Census! Too much funding for community resources and political representation is at stake.” While a full and accurate count of the entire LGBT API population is needed, which the groups pledged that they will help with, they also voiced many concerns:  

  • The Census form must accommodate people of transgender experience. The “sex” question on the census questionnaire limits responses to only “male” or “female” and does not recognize alternate gender identities. 
  • The Census should recognize sexual orientation.  Currently no such question will be asked.  
  • Restore the Middle Eastern/ North African race/ ethnic option. Even though it was approved early on, the Trump administration inexplicability removed it at the eleventh hour.  
  • The Census paid advertising campaign should not exclude South Asians. The Bureau recently launched a multimillion dollar paid advertising campaign in multiple languages but South Asian media outlets were not included. 
  • Confidentiality Defense and Blocking ICE. The Bureau should go beyond public statements of assurance and aggressively enforce the confidentiality protections against any efforts by law enforcement, including ICE from seeking census data.

The “sex” question poses complications for many transgender respondents who do not identify between the two binary options. A few states allow a gender neutral “X” option in addition to “M” and “F”.  The groups are advocating for an accommodation on the electronic on-line questionnaire.  

Additionally overly aggressive immigrant enforcement by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has instilled fear among many LGBTQ API immigrants.  The groups urged the Bureau Director to invoke the safeguards in federal law that prohibit any interference with the census and any efforts to thwart participation.1 The groups urged the Director to block, and recommend for prosecution, any efforts by ICE to seek census information or to conduct immigration enforcement during the census canvassing period from March through August 2020. 

NQAPIA is a Census 2020 National Partner with the Bureau and is launching a national community education and outreach campaign on the census. Magpantay said, “But our efforts can only go so far and we need the Census Bureau to stand up and boldly do more.” 

Magpantay has worked on the Census for over 20 years and led community outreach, education and advocacy efforts for both Census 2000 and 2010. NQAPIA is a federation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander organizations.  

A copy of the letter is below and linked here: bit.ly/NQAPIA-census

NQAPIA Letter Census 2020 Complaints

1 Title 13 states that “whoever, either directly or indirectly,” or renders “any suggestion, advice, information or assistance of any kind, with the intent or purpose of causing an inaccurate enumeration of population to be made, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.” 

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