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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 23, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 25
Jeff Sessions' DOJ vetoed collection of LGBT data, documents show
Section One
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Jeff Sessions' DOJ vetoed collection of LGBT data, documents show

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Jeff Sessions' Department of Justice (DOJ) vetoed collection of data on the LGBT community by the American Community Survey (ACS), according to documents published by US Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware.

The ACS used to collect and publish data on LGBT Americans at the request of President Obama's attorney general, Loretta Lynch, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.

However, once Donald Trump became president, administration officials questioned whether the ACS should continue to collect such information. The Census Bureau, which runs the ACS, then sent a letter to the DOJ asking whether data on the LGBT community should continue to be part of the survey.

'It has come to my attention that Department of Justice officials have recently contacted Census regarding the appropriateness of certain Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) topics on the upcoming American Community Survey,' the Census Bureau's attorney wrote to the DOJ.

'As you know, it is the prerogative of the Department of Justice to determine which topics it wishes to propose for inclusion in the Survey.

'In order to meet certain statutory reporting deadlines, my client, Census, seeks to determine whether the Department of Justice continues to view the placement of new content related to LGBT populations in the American Community Survey as necessary to meet the Department of Justice's continuing needs and priorities.

'Please let me know whether the Department of Justice wishes to continue, modify, or withdraw the request made.'

In its response, the DOJ confirmed it would be withdrawing the request.

'Your letter asks if the Department still wishes to maintain that request, and you have further indicated that a response is needed immediately,' the DOJ said in its reply.

'Because such a request requires thorough analysis and careful consideration, the Department is unable to reaffirm its request.'

After the Trump administration withdrew the request, the Census Bureau publicly announced it would no longer ask questions on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Speaking to NPR, Carper and Sen. Kamala Harris of California questioned the DOJ decision to veto collection of LGBT-related data.

'These communications raise concerns about the role of the DOJ and its influence on government data collection,' the senators said.

Other Trump administration departments have also cancelled data collection on LGBT Americans. Earlier this year, for example, the Department of Health and Human Services under Tom Price decided not to collect any more data on LGBT populations.

A question about sexual orientation was also removed from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP), an annual national survey of recipients of services for elderly people. Removing the question on sexual orientation was the only change made to the survey, and no justification was given.

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