New research finds that, on public-policy issues, they enjoy a stronger consensus than conservatives

But if one is counting people who say they experience same-sex attraction, that figure can quickly double. Karen Parker, who runs a newly created office at the National Institute of Health that is exclusively dedicated to research on sexual and gender minorities, known as SGM. For instance, her office—which was created because officials noticed health disparities affecting SGM and determined that the area was understudied—cares a lot more about actions associated with health risks than political identities. What data can do.

There is no shortage of research to bolster the anecdotal stories of discrimination and outsized hardships LGBT people still experience. Studies of sample groups have found, for instance, that LGBT people face more barriers to getting healthcare than the general public and that transgender women of color are at greatly increased risk for physical assault. But experts say the true scope of those problems can only be fleshed out by large-scale data collection—and that such information will make it a lot easier to get the resources needed to fix problems like the extremely high rates of poverty experienced by transgender people and gaps in parental rights affecting gay couples with children, particularly if the numbers have the authority of being produced by the government itself.

And the data they gather could pay direct benefits. County, says that when a hospital like his can provide data showing that they serve thousands of transgender people in an area, that can help them win millions in federal grant money to provide services transgender people often need, like hormone replacement therapy or mental health services, or to train the hospital staff on competent LGBT care.

In speaking to some officials about quantifying the LGBT population, the whole thing can seem as simple as overcoming the sense that these are taboo subjects and adding a box to existing forms that already ask about things like race, gender and disability. Read more ›

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