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Call on Trump Administration to Reinstate Sexual Orientation Question in National Senior Survey

By Human Rights Campaign (HRC) - 2017-03-23

Summary

HRC criticizes Trump Administration for removing question about sexual orientation from National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP).

"If we do not collect data on LGBTQ seniors, policymakers and advocates can not know the extent of the problems they face."

Main Document

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, lambasted the Trump Administration's Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Community Living (ALC) for removing a question about sexual orientation from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP), an annual national survey of recipients of select services under the Older Americans Act (OAA). Removing this critical question was the only change made to the survey.

"Today, there are an estimated 1.5 million LGBTQ seniors in America. This is an extremely vulnerable population, many of whom will have to face the challenges of advanced age or illness without the traditional support systems and legal protections that other seniors can take for granted," said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. "If we do not collect data on LGBTQ seniors, policymakers and advocates can not know the extent of the problems they face. HRC implores the Trump Administration to add this crucial question back to the NSOAAP and expand their questions to include data collection on gender identity."

The survey obtains performance outcome information, identifies service gaps and supports improvements in programs serving older Americans. For the past three years, ACL has issued the NSOAAP with the question about sexual orientation intact. After previously stating there were no changes to the survey, HHS removed the question on sexual orientation, making it more difficult to track issues senior LGBTQ Americans face.

In addition to this action, two weeks ago, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) withdrew two notices impacting LGBTQ people. The first notice withdrew a requirement for emergency shelters receiving HUD funding to post information about LGBTQ people's rights to access shelter safely and in accordance with their gender identity. The second notice withdrew critical data collection and implementation guidelines for a homelessness prevention initiative targeting LGBTQ youth.

HRC has long advocated for better data collection regarding the LGBTQ population. Several U.S. agencies have already taken steps to do so including the Department of Education, which has added sexual orientation and gender identity questions to the 2016 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS); the Department of Health and Human Services, which added sexual orientation and gender identity data collection to its requirements for Electronic Health Records (EHRs) certified under the Meaningful Use program; and the FBI, which collects statistics on hate crimes committed based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other characteristics, in its annual Hate Crimes Statistics reports.

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