AERA Offers Strong Support for Proposed Test of 2024 ACS Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Measures
AERA Offers Strong Support for Proposed Test of 2024 ACS Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Measures

November 2023

On November 20, AERA co-signed a letter with 186 other national, state, and local organizations to offer strong support for a proposal issued by the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct a test of sexual orientation, gender identity, and variations in sex characteristics (SOGISC) measures on the American Community Survey (ACS).

“The results of the proposed test would advance the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity on the ACS, enabling federal data collection that is more accurate and better captures the diversity of the U.S. population, with far-reaching ramifications for research and scholarship,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine.

According to the letter, the ACS currently collects information on same-sex couples who are cohabitating. This measure captures only about one in six of all LGBTQI+ people in the U.S., since single LGBQ, transgender, and intersex people cannot be identified through the existing relationship question.

“We believe it is critical that the federal government’s data collection efforts consistently include measures sufficient to identify the unique needs and experiences of LGBTQI+ communities,” the letter states. “Such data should always be collected in a safe and secure manner, in accordance with the best practices and evidence-based research on this subject, and in a way that supports the development of programs, policies, and strategies that could improve LGBTQI+ people’s wellbeing.”

The letter provided a summary of existing research on demographics of LGBTQI+ people and the disparities and discrimination reported by LGBTQI+ people, a review of law supporting the addition of these measures to the ACS, and an overview of existing research on collecting demographic data on LGBTQI+ populations.

“In order for the federal government to effectively enforce civil rights protections, including those protecting LGBTQI+ people from discrimination and ensuring equal access, federal surveys such as the ACS must include SOGISC measures,” reads the letter in its conclusion. “The inclusion of SOGISC measures on the ACS is critical to understanding disparities, developing evidence-based policies, and advancing equity.”