Counting LGBTQ communities in the Census

Doing the census is an important act of claiming visibility and power for LGBTQ communities.

The Census is for everyone

You can do the census online, by phone, or by mail. Most people received a letter from the Census Bureau with instructions on how to do the census online and over the phone. 

Do the Census.

What is the Census?

The census is a count the federal government does of every person living in the United States. It happens once every 10 years and is required by the US Constitution.

Why do we do the Census?

Governments and businesses use census data to decide: 

  • How much money each state gets for schools, hospitals, roads, and social services 

  • Locations for new roads, transportation lines, and businesses  

  • How many Congressional Representatives each state, including California, receives 

  • How local and state district lines get drawn, based on population 

Learn more about the 2020 Census.

Why is Census important for LGBTQ communities?

Census data helps determine political representation and funding for social services. Many LGBTQ people rely on these services like health care, housing, and CalFresh.

When everyone does the census, LGBT communities get our fair share. This means funding for local services and the political representation we deserve.

In the past, the census has undercounted LGBTQ people, immigrants, and people of color. If we do not get an accurate census count in 2020, California could lose a seat in the House of Representatives. 

Doing the census is an important act of claiming visibility and power. Without representation, the values, needs and interests of LGBTQ Californians will go unheard.

What questions are on the Census?

The census asks 9 simple questions about you and the people living in your household. The census will ask you how many people live with you and if you own or rent your house, and your relationship to those people. It will also ask you for your name, sex, age, birthday, ethnicity and race.

Does the Census ask about sexual orientation?

The census does not have a specific question about sexual orientation.

But, for the first time in history, you can say if you live with a same-sex partner or spouse. The census does not provide an option for single people to identify as LGBTQ, though.

Does the Census ask about gender identity?

No. The census asks your sex according to a binary. You can only select “male” or “female”.  

LGBTQ people should still do the census, though. When you answer according to how you best identify, you help us work toward a future with better representation for all.

How should I answer the sex question if I'm nonbinary or transgender?

Answer the the sex question as it fits you best. Your answer doesn’t have to match any other official identification documents. 

The census will not compare or cross-check your answer to this question with any other source. 

Learn more about how your census responses are safe and protected.

Can I skip the sex question?

You can skip any question on the census. If you don't fill out a question on the census, the federal government will guess how you would have answered. This makes the census count less accurate. It also leaves the decision in the hands of the federal government, and not yours. 

If you skip too many questions, a US Census Bureau worker might visit you in person to help you complete the form. 

Do the Census

Count yourself in before October 15, 2020. Visit or call 844-330-2020 to get started. 

Need help? Visit for more information.

Spread the word

When you do the Census, the whole LGBTQ community benefits.

Watch, like and share this LGBTQ Folks and the Census video with your community. 

Last updated May 19, 2022