The administration of Donald Trump, the man touted by gay Republicans as the “most pro-gay” Republican president ever, has now removed questions regarding sexuality from federal surveys on aging and services for the disabled. Trump’s minions had already withdrawn another planned survey intended to evaluate the effectiveness of a homelessness project for LGBT youth.
According to ABC News, the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants, a Health and Human Services department survey conducted each year, gathers information from those receiving transportation, homemaker and meal services, visiting senior centers, or taking part in other programs funded by the Older Americans Act. In a draft of this year’s survey, a single question asking about respondents’ sexual orientation has been removed. In the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living, a second report sponsored by HHS, has been edited to delete the only question regarding sexual orientation. This survey is intended to gather feedback on counseling, skills training and other services provided to the disabled.
Kelly Mack, a spokeswoman for the Administration for Community Living, the HHS division which oversees the two surveys, claimed the question on sexual orientation had only been included in the first place as part of a “pilot test,” and that it was removed because “the sample size was insufficient to be reliable,” according to ABC News. But LGBT advocates called bullshit, saying the survey results had already provided insight into the lives of LGBT elders.
Mack was also questioned by Associated Press journalists who noted that she claimed the question on sexual orientation was one of several removed from the surveys, but that in fact, it was the ONLY question removed. In response, Mack pointed to a question on respondents’ date of birth, then posted a revised version of the surveys in which that question was also removed. (Hey Kelly Mack, “two” does not equal “several.”)
Laura Durso, vice president of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, accused the Trump administration of “choosing to not only ignore us but erase us from the discussion.”
Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy said, “Today, there are an estimated 1.5 million LGBTQ seniors in America. This is an extremely vulnerable population, many of whom will have to face the challenges of advanced age or illness without the traditional support systems and legal protections that other seniors can take for granted. If we do not collect data on LGBTQ seniors, policymakers and advocates can not know the extent of the problems they face.”
HRC “implore[d] the Trump Administration to add this crucial question back to the NSOAAP and expand their questions to include data collection on gender identity.”
Officials with Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders (SAGE) has launched a nationwide effort to “oppose the Trump administration’s proposed erasure of LGBT elders from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants.”
SAGE CEO Michael Adams said, “Caring about our LGBT elders means making sure they have access to publicly-funded senior services, which can be literally life-saving. Now it appears that the Trump Administration wants to make believe LGBT older people don’t exist, by erasing them from this critically important survey. We insist that this decision be reversed and that the federal government commit to serving all elders in need, including those who are LGBT.”