The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics has requested a revision to the National Crime Victimization Survey information collection that raises the minimum age at which respondents will be administered questions on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Per the requested change, the minimum age for these questions will be raised from 16 to 18 due to concerns about the "potential sensitivity" of these questions for young teens.
Join Northwestern University's Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health (ISGMH) faculty and staff in explaining why the requested change in procedure would be extremely detrimental to the health and safety of sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth. ISGMH has conducted numerous peer-reviewed studies on this topic, and there is no evidence that teens are uncomfortable answering questions about their sexual orientation or gender identity - in fact, they reported being more comfortable doing so than posting their pictures on social media or going to the eye doctor.
There is mounting evidence that SGM youth are at grave risk for violence and victimization, yet they are barely represented in research. This void in research means that every opportunity to collect data is crucially needed in order to understand their experiences. In eliminating questions that assess SGM status among adolescents under 18, the DOJ is rendering SGM adolescent victims of crime nearly invisible, which in turn diminishes efforts to identify and provide targeted resources for these youth.