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'Queer the Census' campaign created to increase visibility

Friday, March 26, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 4:29 p.m. CDT, Friday, March 26, 2010
The LGBTQ Resource Center at MU is providing stickers at Memorial Union for people to place on their census envelopes. "The current census counts individuals on more traditional lines. We are trying to move it to a phase where people have more options for being counted based on sexual identity and gender identity." said center coordinator Ryan Black.

COLUMBIA — Type of residence? Check.

Gender? Check

Race? Check

Sexual orientation?

The 2010 census form has no place to mark an individual's sexual orientation, so the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has taken the matter into its own hands.

The organization created “Queer the Census," an independent campaign that pushes representation in the census count.

The campaign uses hot-pink stickers so people can check their sexual orientation and mail back with the form.

The choices are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and for those who just want to support the cause, there's a box for "straight ally."

“This is a visibility campaign,” said Vanessa Macoy, the Queer the Census organizer for the task force in Washington, D.C. “The sticker is a great visible way for there to be a tidal wave of hot pink as the ‘queered censuses’ go into the bureau.”

The campaign has sent more than 100,000 stickers to related organizations and supporters, Macoy said. The sticker can also be downloaded on the Queer the Census Web site.

“It’s great because they come from every corner in the country,” she said.

This week, Macoy shipped stickers to Vermont, Alabama, Arkansas and Utah, among other places.

The LGBTQ Resource Center at MU has been passing out stickers from its initial order of 200,  said resource center coordinator Ryan Black.

“Several students have come and picked them up,” he said. The stickers are still available.

In the move to add sexual orientation to the next census form, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has also posted an online petition, gathering names of 50,000 supporters.

Macoy said representation in the census is important to the LGBT community.

“The census is the basis of over $400 billion in federal funding,” she said. “The LGBT community is not able to effectively lobby to be recipients of any of that money.”

Having a count of the gay and lesbian community could be the basis for future lobbying efforts, she said.

“The data collected impacts issues critical to every American — like our health care, our economic stability, and even our safety. And when LGBT people aren't counted, then we also don't count when it comes to services, resources, ... you name it," according to the organization's Web site.

For the first time this year, the census is counting unmarried and legally married same-sex couples. Same-sex couples may note their relationship on the form as either “unmarried partner” or “husband/wife.”

“This is a fantastic first step in making the census more LGBT inclusive, but the problem is the census still does not recognize LGBT individuals," Macoy said.


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Comments

Mark Foecking March 26, 2010 | 6:45 a.m.

Um, it's none of my business if someone wants to proclaim their sexual orientation, but don't you think that the Census form has a few too many questions on it right now?

DK

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 26, 2010 | 10:06 a.m.

Seems like a side-effect of this effort, if successful, would be making the LGBT community more dependent on the government and government money. I don't know if that's a good solution.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 26, 2010 | 6:23 p.m.

("The choices are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and for those who just want to support the cause, there's a box for "straight ally.")
Who's this straight Ally person they speak of?
Ally McBeal? Ally McPherson? Alley Oops?
What if it's not up my alley?
If you're compelled to make labels, just plain "straight" or "heterosexual" would have sufficed.
(Sort of like GetAbout & PedNet dissing people who drive cars. Don't you think?)

(Report Comment)

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