Stock photo of a lesbian couple. (Envato/Rawpixel)

This year, the US census will count same-sex couples who live together for the first time.

But the decennial survey still won’t ask individuals about their sexual orientation or gender identity – despite LGBT+ advocates pushing for this to be explicitly asked.

Proposed questions regarding sexuality and gender identity were included in a leaked 2017 version of the census questions, but swiftly removed by the US Census Bureau who called the inclusion a “mistake”.

“The data we get from the census won’t be representative of everyone in our community,” said Meghan Maury, policy director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, which runs the Queer the Census campaign.

“We want LGBTQ folks to know that census data is used to allocate political power,” she added, urging LGBT+ people to respond to the census – instructions for filling in the online form will be posted to US households very soon.

Census data is used to help allocate more than $675 billion of federal funding each year.

The 2020 census will be the first to ask about same-sex couples cohabiting, with the US Census Bureau saying this is to “better collect more detailed data about types of coupled households”.

The census will ask respondents about their relationship to the person they live with, and will include “opposite-sex husband/wife/spouse” and “same-sex husband/wife/spouse”, as well as “opposite-sex unmarried partner” and “same-sex unmarried partner.”

Previously, the options were limited to “husband and wife” or “unmarried partner”.

This update, Queer the Census said in a statement, will improve knowledge about the “number of same-sex couples that are raising kids, the geography of where same-sex couples live, and the race and ethnicity of people in same-sex couples”.

This in turn will help policymakers better understand at least the cohabiting part of the LGBT+ community, Queer the Census said.

The US census counts all people living in the US every 10 years. The 2020 census will take place on April 1.

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