How many times have we heard a conservative politician rebuff the mere residence of same-sex couples in their district, in an effort to legitimize their anti-equality voting record? Or reduce a visit by concerned LGBT constituents down to nothing more than a strategy by extremist interest groups? This year, one of the most powerful and trusted tools used to collect national population data - the U.S. Census - might finally erode misinformed assumptions that LGBT people live “elsewhere.”
For the first time in history, the U.S. Bureau of the Census will capture data on same-sex married and unmarried households. An important policy change no doubt, but without a culturally intuitive education campaign to match, “hard to count” populations like the LGBT community may relegate their Census to the recycling bin.
Mindful of its complex undertaking, the Bureau has rolled out a savvy grassroots education initiative in the last few months geared toward breaking down longstanding barriers and cultural resistance to the Census. “Partnership Specialists” have been hired from the “hard to count” communities the Bureau seeks to engage. In coordination with local elected officials, non-profit organizations and small businesses, partnership specialists are hoping to organize a robust network of dedicated leaders to facilitate community access and trust.
For most of us, completing our Census remains a pesky inconvenience. But the implications and significance of the Census are harder to shy away from. Not only will the completion of your Census this year ensure heightened LGBT visibility, it will also secure vital federal funding for local community investment projects like schools, job training and senior centers, hospitals, and emergency services. And it will take you no more than 10 minutes to complete.
The Constitution requires that the Census be administered every 10 years, and expressly prohibits the sharing of information with other government agencies or private entities.
Expect your Census in March. Remember to be SEEN in 2010 by completing your Census.