Adult Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender experience higher rates of food and economic insecurity than their non-LGBT counterparts, according to the findings of a key coronavirus pandemic survey released Wednesday by the Census Bureau.
The latest Household Pulse Survey, which asks about things like child care, food security and household spending to learn how the pandemic is affecting America’s households, included questions about sexual orientation and gender identity, the first time a population survey sponsored by the federal agency included such questions, it said in a statement about its findings.
“Overall, about 13.1% of LGBT adults lived in a household where there was sometimes or often not enough to eat in the past seven days, compared to 7.2% of non-LGBT adults,” the agency said of the newest Household Pulse Survey, which was conducted between July 21 and August 2.
The Census Bureau reached out to more than a million households for the survey and received nearly 65,000 responses.
The survey found that “36.6% of LGBT adults lived in a household that had difficulty paying for usual household expenses in the previous seven days, compared to 26.1% of non-LGBT adults,” while 19.8% of LGBT adults live in households where employment had been lost in the past month, compared with 16.8% of non-LGBT adults who had similar experiences.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has affected all Americans in one way or another, the newly released findings shed light on how it has been especially detrimental to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the US. The survey also provides much-needed data on a minority group that has not been surveyed by the federal government in the same way other groups have been.
The Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights groups, said the findings highlight issues that members of the community have long faced, even before the pandemic.
“The Census Bureau’s new data only continues to highlight what we have long known – LGBTQ+ Americans disproportionately bear the brunt of economic hardships from food insecurity to unemployment,” Jay Brown, the group’s senior vice president of programs, research and training, said in a statement to CNN.
“This disparity is further fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic, as the LGBTQ+ community is more likely to work in front-line service jobs, have their hours cut, and face housing and employment discrimination,” Brown added.
CNN reported in June that the Census Bureau was pushing to get the questions about sexual orientation and gender identity included on the new iterations of the survey, which has been conducted periodically since April 2020.
Government statistics are used to identify problems in the economy and help find policy solutions. Perhaps most importantly, the data help decide how government funds are distributed and where they are needed the most. If the stats don’t represent whole demographic groups, it’s a lot harder to write laws that benefit them.
CNN’s Anneken Tappe contributed to this report.