Credit: Darrow Montgomery

Under new legislation proposed today, D.C. officials could get more information on disparities in queer residents’ health.

At-Large Councilmember David Grosso proposed a bill that would require the District’s Department of Health to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identify as part of DOH’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, which is conducted by phone. The goal is to better inform policy decisions on public health.

“We have the highest estimated percentage of LGBTQ residents in the nation living in the District,” Grosso said in a statement, referring to the fact that an estimated one in 10 locals identify as queer. “Not including these questions as part of the annual [Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey] is a missed opportunity and disservice to the community.”

According to the councilmember, DOH currently does not track residents’ sexual orientation through the Centers for Disease Control–sponsored survey. When Grosso asked DOH Director LaQuandra Nesbitt why this was the case in a May letter, she responded on June 10 that “funding constraints” prevent the department from collecting data not considered “core.” 

“The DC BRFSS currently surveys 4,000 residents, which is the minimum sample allowed by the CDC,” Nesbitt wrote. “The current contract [for it] is over $300,000 relative to grant funding [for it] at $250,000.” The extra questions would cost between $3,000 and $5,000 each, she added. Grosso’s bill would require the results to be in a yearly report.

You can read the legislation here. It was cosponsored by every councilmember except Ward 7’s Yvette Alexander