CWLA has joined several other groups in a letter and opposition to the Department of Justice (DOJ) proposal to eliminate some important new criminal justice data. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) has proposed the removal of sexual orientation and gender identity questions. The announcement was listed in the Federal Register on April 11.

The Department of Justice’ BJS collects, analyzes, publishes, and collects statistics on criminal victimization through the National Crime Victimization Survey. It is administered to people 12 years or older living in sampled households located throughout the US. Since 2016, self-report data on sexual orientation and gender identity have been collected from all sampled persons age 16 or older. DOJ is proposing to remove this new data.

As the letter states, “The data generated by these questions are crucial to understanding the scope and nature of criminal victimization of LGBTQ youth, and developing informed, evidence-based public policy. Eliminating these questions would deprive the public and policy-makers of this critical information, and reinforce the invisibility, disempowerment, and vulnerability of LGBTQ youth.”

The action by the Department of Justice argues that the questions are sensitive for this youth population but there is no evidence of Department efforts to get feedback from the youth most impacted by the decision. The removal would take place despite other questions that examine sensitive areas including forced or unwanted sexual activity, physical, mental, or emotional disability or citizenship status.

The letter highlights several other surveys that gather such information including the CDC’s National Youth Risk Behavior Risk Survey (YRBS), the National Survey of Family Growth, and the California Health Interview Survey.