Count Me In

Queer the CensusIt’s census time again: that special time of the decade when the federal government counts the citizenry to determine the proper apportionment of representatives as laid out in the Constitution.

But besides determining how many congressmen each state gets, the federal government also uses this count to apportion the distribution of federal tax dollars. A great many government agencies — as well as non-government researchers, policy makers and advocates — also rely on census data as the last word on who’s who (or what) in the country. So if you and your kind don’t exist, statistically speaking, you’re not likely to be part of the policy picture.

I admit there’s a certain romance in feeling like you belong to an exclusive subculture that works and plays right under the noses of the masses with only a very few of their members tuned in finely enough to pick up on your inside humor and conspiratorial winks. But there are practical drawbacks to relegating your life to a world of secrets and shadows. For example: you might live in fear of losing your job if discovered. Of course that job may not matter if, after discovery, some forthright delegates from the masses tie you to a fence on some windswept prairie and beat you to death, anyway. But you get the idea.

The number of questions the census asks is pretty limited, so there’s not a lot of room to get granular in assessing the makeup of the population. But, since 1990, when the Census Bureau added a designation for Unmarried Partner, those of us with an inclination toward the members of our own gender have had a quiet means for announcing our presence … if we happen to co-habitate with that partner.

Being counted by the census doesn’t sound like a lot. But it would bring queers of many stripes — lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender — closer to becoming a statistical reality in the eyes of the government and of everyone who depends on that government for information about the population.

That questionnaire will be in your mailbox very shortly, so it’s not likely that any pressure we exert now will coerce the Census Bureau to include any specific questions about sexual orientation or gender identity. But we can still use this census as an opportunity to make our annoyance (or anger, if you have that much energy) known. Here’s what we can do:

  1. Sign the on-line petition at the Task Force’s Queer the Census site and pass the link on to anyone you know who might also sign.
  2. Then add to your response the question we really want to answer by sealing your census questionnaire envelope with this sticker from Queer the Census. And just in case you don’t receive your free stickers in time to mail your response, you can download one as an Adobe .PDF document. Just print it out and slap it on with a little glue stick.

For more information about the Census, its importance to queers in these United States, and what you can do, visit the site of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

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2 Responses to “Count Me In”

  1. ryan fiser says:

    Say it loud, Gay and Proud!!!!

  2. Michael Bataska says:

    I love being out!

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