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Proposed questions on sexual orientation and gender identity for the Census Bureau’s biggest survey

Feb 16, 2024, 5:39 AM

FILE - Pride flags are held at the Tennessee Capitol, Jan. 22, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. Dozens of ...

FILE - Pride flags are held at the Tennessee Capitol, Jan. 22, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. Dozens of health officials, civil rights groups, individuals and businesses have weighed in about how the U.S. Census Bureau should ask about sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time on its most comprehensive survey of American life. An Associated Press review of the 91 written public comments posted in January 2024 shows them to be largely supportive of the proposed additions, though not without constructive criticism. (AP Photo/George Walker IV, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/George Walker IV, File)

The U.S. Census Bureau this year plans to test questions about sexual orientation and gender identity for its most comprehensive survey of American life.

The test questions will be sent to 480,000 households, with the statistical agency expecting just over half to respond.

If the questions are approved, it will be the first time sexual orientation and gender identity questions are asked on the disabilities and military service, among other topics.

During the test, people will be able to respond to the questions online, by mail, over the phone or through in-person interviews. People who fill out the American Community Survey form typically answer the questions for the other members of their household in what is called a proxy response.

Given privacy concerns, the agency is proposing using flash cards for in-person interviews and using numbered response categories for people who don’t want others in their household to know their responses.

A look at the the proposed test questions:

For everyone:

Gender question one: What sex was Name assigned at birth?

Possible answers: Male; female.

For people age 15 and older:

Gender question two: What is Name’s current gender?

Possible answers: Male; Female; Transgender; Nonbinary; and “This person uses a different term” (with a space to write in a response).

The second gender question will be tested in two different ways to determine whether to give respondents the opportunity to select multiple answers.

Responses to the questions that allow people to select multiple categories will be compared with responses allowing only one answer.

The agency also plans to add what it describes as a “verification” question for anyone whose responses on the two gender questions don’t match.

Sexual orientation question: Which of the following best represents how Name thinks of themselves?

Possible answers: Gay or lesbian; Straight — that is not gay or lesbian; Bisexual; and This person uses a different term (with space to write-in a response).

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Follow Mike Schneider on X: @MikeSchneiderAP.

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Proposed questions on sexual orientation and gender identity for the Census Bureau’s biggest survey