The information collected by the U.S. census is more than raw numbers, it’s a project of stories. Population is a complicated idea disguised in a simple word. By collecting information about the interweaving groups of people who make up this country’s population, the census becomes the public story of who we are, where we are, and what matters to us.
The power of the census lies in what it tells people who use it. Not only do census numbers help decide how we’re represented in D.C., and where $400 billion in federal funds will go each year, but also how researchers and organizations analyze information about advocacy, disease and national disasters. Mapping information from the census has been especially important to efforts like the environmental justice movement, clarifying connections between what happens and who it happens to. If we aren’t counted in the census, we’re invisible in those discussions. And “being counted” is far from simple – none of us exists as a simple number floating in space. We each have many identities, some easy to name and some more complex, but all of which shape what is important to us. So, why isn’t the U.S. census asking us about our sexual identities? Not even a relatively conservative (LGBT/Straight) framework is offered on this year’s census. That’s why Queer the Census wants us to return for a moment to the most basic queer rights message: We are here. Don’t let the census decide whether you count. Order a free sticker before midnight on Monday, March 22 and use it to seal your census envelope. Better yet, start a conversation with the people in your life about queering the census, and spread the word! Queer the Census stickers will be included in the packets at our annual conference in April, From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom. If you want to attend the conference, you can still register!