As a gay man, I literally don’t count in America. Despite previous reports that we would be counted for the first time in history, this week the Trump administration announced that LGBT Americans will not be included in the 2020 census.
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I read about this earlier in the week, and when I watched the TED talk on statistics I was reminded about this. There was talk, recently, about LGBT Americans being counted in the 2020 census. Obviously being able to quantify the number of LGBT people will mean that policy will have to take this information into account – if the census demonstrates conclusively that x% of Americans are LGBT, then that is a weapon for agitating for better rights, better provisions, better services, better everything, really. The plan to count LGBT Americans has been shelved this week, and this represents a major challenge for the LGBT community in the US.
I think it’s a really clear example of the socio-critical elements of data and algorithmic cultures. If you have an unequal structure to begin with, then the algorithms used to make sense of that may well replicate that inequality. And if you assume that the data is not necessary to begin with, then there’s no accountability at all.