Finally, the 2020 US Census is counting LGBTQ families

The 2020 US Census is underway, and new changes should result in a better understanding and representation of gay and lesbian families.

This year, the 2020 US Census is substantially changing its “relationship” question for households with more than one occupant. There are now four options: In addition to opposite-sex husband/spouse or unmarried partner, forms also include same-sex husband/spouse or unmarried partner.2020 US census

That should result in a more accurate count of LGBTQ families, which is important not only for scholars but also to better deliver services and make policy decisions.

But the community likely will remain underrepresented because the Census has not altered its gender question since it began in 1790.

Respondents can still select only “female” or “male.” Despite society’s awakening about the transgender demographic and a flourishing of pronouns, members of the community will have no way to identify itself unless they leave the question blank.

I predict, though, the Census will likely alter its gender question by 2030 or earlier for more detailed American Community Survey counts. 

That’s because the Census Bureau, albeit slowly sometimes, usually changes to reflect evolutions in society.

Take married couples. Up until 1970, the Census Bureau considered the husband to be the “head of household” and his spouse to mark the category of “wife of head,” no matter who was the breadwinner.

After the social upheaval of the 1970s, the Census substituted a “husband/wife” category for “wife of head,” allowing wives to be identified as the “head of household.” 

While the percentage of households that chose this option was relatively small, it did herald the increased movement of women into higher education and the fact that many wives were the primary breadwinner.  

That same year, the Census also replaced “roommate, boarder, lodger” with “partner,” though it was combined with “roommate” as the option.  

The Census, though, has been slower to adopt to the modern LGBTQ rights movement, which started with the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

bridgemi.com, by Kurt Metzger, March 5 2020

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Anthony Brown

Anthony Brown

Attorney and Advocate at Time For Families
Who am I? On the deepest level, I am blessed. I have an amazing partner, who I have known since 1989 and been married to since 2004. I am the donor dad of two beautiful daughters who have two moms who are equally amazing. My husband and I have expanded our family through surrogacy and have a seven-year old son. I have had three careers (acting, massage therapy and the law) and I am still discovering myself. I am the Board Chair of Men Having Babies. The one thing I know for sure is that life is about trusting your instincts. Family is an instinct.
Anthony Brown