Democrats on the House Oversight Committee commemorated Pride Month with a new bill to require agencies to collect voluntary, self-disclosed data about sexual orientation and gender identity in federal surveys to address “longstanding gaps” in federal data.
The House Oversight committee approved a new bill that would require agencies to collect and incorporate voluntary, self-disclosed data about sexual orientation, gender identity and variations in sex characteristics in federal surveys.
In a statement, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said the bill would take a "critical step towards closing longstanding gaps" in federal data relevant to the nation's LGBTQI+ community, which has been repeatedly shown in studies to disproportionately face discrimination when accessing healthcare and housing.
"To commemorate Pride Month, Oversight Committee Democrats passed critical legislation to close longstanding gaps in the collection of data pertaining to our nation’s LBGTQI+ communities," Maloney said."
Maloney introduced an amendment to the bill to update its name to the latest version to include intersex populations. In order to address outdated definitions and terminology in some current federal surveys, the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act would require agencies to incorporate and update their definitions to match current standards.
It would also aim to address gaps in data which may be preventing increased funding and resources going towards LGBTQI+ communities and populations, as well as require that data be published with other relevant agency data sets.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that included provisions aimed at improving LGBTQI+ equality, including safeguards from discrimination in healthcare and education, as well as expanded federal data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity. The order creates a new coordinating committee tasked with leading efforts throughout the federal government to increase the federal collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data while protecting confidentiality and civil rights.
The congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus praised the House Oversight committee's vote on Tuesday in a statement, with Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the chair of the caucus, saying "good policy comes from good data."
"For too long, federal surveys have erased LGBTQI+ people by failing to collect critical data on our community,” he said. "From the limited survey information we do have, we know LGBTQI+ people face high rates of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness."
The bill contains some exceptions for privacy reasons and allows statistical office leaders within agencies to waive the new data collection requirements to comply with confidentiality laws and standards. A version of the bill was also introduced last year by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly gay person elected to the Senate.
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