A new report by the Center for American Progress outlines how government data plays a critical role in the country’s policy making process, but that the lack of reliable data about the gay and transgender population increases the likelihood that stereotypes and myths will shape policies that impact the LGBT community.
As a case in point, the report points to Friday’s upcoming release of unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The media will cover the overall rate itself, as well as how different groups of people in the United States are experiencing unemployment, including women, younger workers, and African Americans and Latinos.
“Gay and transgender workers, however, will not be discussed in the coverage because the bureau does not collect any demographic data on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The unemployment statistics are be based on the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of American households that the U.S. Census Bureau fields for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Beyond the unemployment rate, the survey gives policymakers, researchers, and advocates a wide range of data on the U.S. labor force, including earnings, underemployment rates, and the number of hours that people work.
Adding sexual orientation and gender-identity questions to the other existing demographic questions already on the survey would help researchers and policymakers better identify the particular populations struggling the most with employment, the report asserts.
“These data would also allow local, state, federal, and nonprofit agencies to develop job-training and placement programs that more effectively serve the needs of all Americans, including those who are gay and transgender.”
The full report by the Center for American Progress is here.