Designing the sexual orientation question for Scotland’s next census

The Forth Rail Bridge and a rainbow.

For the first time, Scotland’s 2022 census will ask a question about sexual orientation. A new article in the Journal of Gender Studies examines correspondence between National Records of Scotland, the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee and campaign groups to describe decisions made, the uneasy relationship between queer identities and state data collection practices, and the question of who is counted when we count LGBTQ people.

In particular, my engagement in the design process enabled me to critically examine decisions made about the exclusion of non-binary identities and the use of predictive text technology.

In the article, I conclude that the census design process constructed a queer population that ‘made sense’ to the heteronormative majority and ‘designed-out’ queer lives that the state did not wish to bring into being.

Although focused on the design process in Scotland, the article presents insights for the collection of data on gender, sex and sexuality in future censuses.

‘Constructing a queer population? Asking about sexual orientation in Scotland’s 2022 census’ is available to read (open access) in the Journal of Gender Studies.

Journal of Gender Studies
Journal of Gender Studies

Equality, diversity + inclusion researcher based in Edinburgh, Scotland | @kevin_guyan | kevinguyan.com

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