The year 2020 made history when LGBTQ people were first counted during the census. Another count, however, hasn’t been adequately done so far at the national level. That is the deadly one of queer people affected by COVID-19. It turns out to be extraordinarily sad as LGBTQ people were recognized as one of the vulnerable communities along with the elderly and people with severe medical conditions. At the national level, over 100 senators and representatives called for immediate action from the administration. However, we are still (almost) precisely at the same point as we were a couple of months ago.
Thus several states came up with their own initiatives to estimate the effect of the pandemic on queer people. State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan is among them. He has suggested legislation authorizing medical organizations to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity of COVID-19 patients. This timely initiative could definitely contribute to gathering more reliable statistics along with that obtained from census to better serve the LGBTQ community.
“It is important that we get as much information about the impact of COVID on the LGBTQ population because at the moment we don’t really know. Our community has been neglected in terms of statewide data collection,” Sen. Hoylman said.
However, for the initiative being implemented, numerous questions remain. Let us raise just a few. The pandemic is there for over two months, and some percent of LGBTQ people who contracted the virus have already recovered so that unless they pass the antibody test, there is no way to count them and/or estimate long-term effects made by the virus on their health. On top of that, the questions about sexual orientation and gender identity are currently voluntary, and some people prefer to leave it blank due to safety concerns. With the issue becoming that complicated in terms of statistics, a coordinated nationwide response is a must.