Andrew Markle

Why the CDC & Census Numbers Are Flawed

Filed By Andrew Markle | July 16, 2014 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: CDC, Census Bureau, data sets, sexual orientation, statistical data, US Census

numbers.jpgAlmost every article I've read on LGBT rights in the last 24 hours has been mired by the latest news that the Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have officially released numbers on the number of gay and lesbian citizens in the United States. I've read multiple figures, including anywhere between 1 and 3.6%. I've even seen 4% in some places. I almost wish everyone would get their facts straight (no pun intended) or just not report it at all.

There are a few things to remember when it comes to government statistics on LGBT persons. The last US Census was conducted in 2010. In 2010, Perry vs. Schwarzenegger happened. It was the first major victory the LGBT community had when it came to overturning unconstitutional bans on marriage equality. It's also important to remember that the Census Bureau probably didn't receive accurate statistics because it doesn't accurately record situations where an individual is a member of the LGBT community. Reason being, people aren't always honest about it, single-member households usually don't report sexual orientation, and there are no markers for bisexuals or trans* persons in the survey itself.

It's also important to recognize that while the CDC's health survey provides a specific question in asking your orientation, in the past, people have refused to provide the information. In the most recent survey, 1.1% of the survey's participants declined to share their sexual orientation.

Political ramifications for these surveys are high. I understand the need for them, especially to identify the needs of our community when comes to specific health issues, but I can understand an individual's reticence in providing data to the CDC. Not because it's the government, but because they understand that it could be used by politicians who are not friendly to the LGBT cause to develop some sort of notion to further ostracize us.

When I think of statistical data, I would never want to paint an inaccurate picture, but with the stigma of being LGBT still fresh in the air and communities finally being able to speak up and "come out", so to speak, I would assume that the data sets, at this point in time, are not very accurate.

I know people who are married and are closeted. I have a good friend who is married and is bisexual. The government would view my friend as a heterosexual because he's married with children, when he equally likes men and women. It's a misnomer and under represented. If the government wants accurate data, it would do the government well to stop discriminating against the community at large.

While I recognize that there are a lot of progressive states and the state of affairs for the community are getting better, in states like Indiana (where I live), we just got done with a grueling fight against a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality. People here aren't apt to come out. There are hundreds of closeted guys that are married or have girlfriends that are lurking around in the corners of Grindr and Jack'd.

There's a lot of things to remember when looking at this data. While I do not personally view it as an accurate barometer of the total populus' sexual orientation, I am reminded that the government's data is the only data and that it's the only thing the media will respect.

Data is data, but people are people and that is the unpredictable variable in this entire equation.

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