The Affirmative Power of Visibility

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November 16, 2010

"When we get counted, we count. Our visibility can yield power. Lambda Legal and our sister civil rights organizations are supporting efforts to get lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people counted in the United States Census. (In earlier population counts, if a same-sex couple checked the box that said "married," the federal government actually assumed they'd mismarked their form, changed one partner's gender identity, and "straightened" them for the count.) We therefore have painfully little in terms of governmental statistics on what's needed to serve the LGBT community. That means fewer opportunities to fund programs that would serve LGBT needs, and contributes to a snowballing cycle of disadvantaging LGBT people.

"When we do count LGBT people, we succeed much better. A fellow safe-schools activist challenged a local school system to improve its harassment policies, and the school system said it didn't need them -- it simply had no gay youth. My colleague used an official state youth survey to say, "Yes, you do. In fact, you have this many of them. They filled out the survey, and you have a legal obligation to protect them." The school fixed its policies.

Read Deputy Legal Director Hayley Gorenberg's complete blog entry on The Huffington Post.