Activists and supporters are furious after it appears the Trump administration has removed any questions about the LGBTQ community from its national surveys that help decide funding for groups that support the elderly.
The National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP) had added questions relating to the LGBTQ community to its surveys in 2014 but it looks like the Trump administration has removed those questions for the 2017 edition. And it wasn’t revealed that the questions were removed until a draft of the survey was posted online on the website of the Administration for Community Living (ACL).
The ACL conducts the surveys that provide the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with “data from those receiving transportation, homemaker and meal services, visiting senior centers, or taking part in other programs funded by the Older Americans Act,” according to the Associated Press.
A spokesperson for the ACL told NBC News that “the questions have been included in previous ACL surveys as part of a pilot test. These pilot questions are no longer proposed for inclusion in the surveys. The sample size of responses to these questions while piloted has not been sufficient enough to date to allow for reliability and reporting.”
According to the Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders (SAGE) group, there were at least three million LGBTQ people, age 55 or older, in 2014 and that number is growing. SAGE is one of the prominent organizations that have responded to the exclusion of the questions.
In a statement on the org’s website, SAGE CEO Michael Adams said, “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.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) weighed in as well, with HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy saying, “If we do not collect data on LGBTQ seniors, policymakers and advocates can not know the extent of the problems they face. HRC implores the Trump Administration to add this crucial question back to the NSOAAP and expand their questions to include data collection on gender identity.”
And, in an emailed statement, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, “Our LGBTQ seniors, many of whom survived the HIV and AIDS epidemic, do not deserve to have the government once again brush them off from obtaining transportation services, caregiver support, and even delivered meals that fit their needs.”
There’s still a chance that the questions could be restored if the organizations are able to gather enough support and convince the government to add them back. These drafts have been posted for public comments and feedback, which can be submitted for 60 days. The deadline for this particular survey is May 12, 2017.