David Iliff, Wikipedia Commons

Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, and Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum are among 68 members of Congress urging the Department of Health and Human Services to back off its plan to eliminate LGBTQ-related questions from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants. The Survey gathers information from elder Americans utilizing certain programs, and past inclusion of LGBTQ Americans in the survey has helped collect useful information about inequities facing older LGBTQ people.

In March, news broke that the survey would likely no longer ask participants about sexual orientation or gender identity, a move that has alarmed LGBTQ and elder-serving groups alike.

In late April, 19 U.S. Senators — including Franken and Klobuchar — sent a letter to HHS requesting that the department reverse the decision to exclude LGBTQ questions.

“Sexual orientation and gender identity questions on these surveys were designed to ensure that vital services were reaching vulnerable LGBT Americans,” the letter states. “By rolling back data collection, it is possible that the needs of millions of Americans go unmet.”

Members of the House of Representatives — including Ellison and McCollum — sent a similar letter on May 11.

“LGBT seniors deserve to have their specific needs examined,” the House letter stated. “To erase LGBT demographic questions from the NSOAAP is to pretend the needs of older LGBT Americans do not exist. Indeed, it is to pretend that LGBT older Americans do not exist.”

Here are the letters sent to HHS:

House letter:

Download (PDF, 443KB)

Senate letter:

Download (PDF, 196KB)

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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.