New York, NY: New York City’s Asian Pacific American, LGBTQ and multiracial communities held a press conference and rally on the steps of New York City Hall on February 6th in support of Intro 251, 551, and 552. The bills, sponsored by Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Councilmember Margaret Chin, would create standards for the collection and reporting of demographic data by city agencies on Asian Pacific Americans, gender identity and sexual orientation, and multiracial New Yorkers. Together these bills share a similar goal of ensuring that the City collects more accurate demographic data that reflects the diversity of NYC.
Mandate standard approach to the collection, disaggregation and reporting out of demographic data on New York City’s diverse communities. Specify disaggregation of 19 Asian American ethnic categories: Bangladeshi, Bhutanese, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Nepalese, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Thai, Tibetan, and Vietnamese and 5 Pacific Islander ethnic categories: Guamanian, Fijian, Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan. Include option to fill in for Other Asian or Pacific Islander Group.
They demanded that the government collects information on place of birth or country of origin and require collecting/reporting information on primary language. They also wanted specific categories for sexual orientation be included, identifying that one’s heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer and the categories for gender identity would include cisgender, transgender, intersex or gender non--conforming.
They wanted to require development of a training and a manual for City agency staff on how to appropriately conduct intake regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. Make certain that any City agency which collects demographic information regarding the responder’s ancestry or ethnic background on any form or document, include an option for multiracial ancestry or ethnic origin. Ensure data is made publicly available at regular intervals. Together, there are currently 41 co-sponsors on these bills in the New York City Council.
“All New Yorkers deserve to be counted so that they can receive the city services that are funded by their tax dollars,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D – Jackson Heights, Elmhurst), prime sponsor of Intro 251 and 552. “I am proud to join Council Member Chin in advocating for the passage of Intros 251, 551 and 552 which will help provide Asian and Pacific Islanders, multi-racial people and the LGBT community with greater access to vital health and human services. These important bills go a long way toward protecting these residents who have been subject to institutional discrimination and neglect for far too long.”
“When it comes to making sure that New Yorkers get the services they need, we cannot afford to leave anyone out,” said NYC Council Member Margaret Chin, (D – Lower Manhattan), prime sponsor of Intro 551. “As a co-sponsor of this important legislation with Council Member Dromm, we are helping Asian and Pacific Islanders, multi-racial people and members of the LGBT community stand up and be counted. I am proud to be part of this effort to connect all New Yorkers with the resources they need to thrive.”
Many leaders across New York City and nationally are speaking in support of Intro 251, 551, and 552, including the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, The Center for LGBTQ Studies, NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health, Empire State Pride Agenda, Arab-American Family Support Center, Center for American Progress, and Asian & Pacific Islander American Health forum.
“The Asian Pacific American is the fastest growing community in New York City. Yet little is known about the over 40 different ethnic groups that comprises the APA community and the needs of our diverse communities. We know from our members that services and resources are not adequately allocated to meet the growing demand of APA communities. For too long, when city agencies issue reports, APAs are either not mentioned, categorized simply as “Asian”, “Asian/Pacific Islander”, or “Other”, said Sheelah Feinberg, Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. “This aggregation approach renders the different APA ethnic communities invisible and masks the unique social, educational, and economic difficulties in our communities. We support Intro 251, because it will bring us one step closer to dispelling the model minority myth and providing a better understanding of the real challenges facing New York City’s fastest growing group,” Feinberg added.
“I find it necessary for city agencies and advocates who fight for services to have data available to show how large and diverse the LGTBQ and gender non-conforming (GNC) community is in all of the New York City””, said Bryan Ellicott, Transgender Activist. “With Intro 552, additional fields on certain forms and documents will capture data on individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These are necessary and require very little change and training. In 2016, knowledge of the LGBTQ and GNC community should be in place for all these agencies.”
“As a research organization, the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health strongly supports Intro 251. Aggregate data on Asian Americans bolster the model minority stereotype indicating Asians are healthier than other racial/ethnic minority populations, and gives policy makers license to ignore true social disparities. Research generated by our Center has consistently found that when we analyze disaggregated, granular data by ethnic subgroup, unsetting disparities exist both within and across Asian American communities, including disproportionate rates of smoking among Korean men, Type II Diabetes among Asian Indian and Bangladeshi communities, uncontrolled hypertension among Filipinos, and mental health risk factors among Cambodian and Vietnamese communities. Our city agencies can no longer remain complicit in masking the true nature of health disparities in our communities – the time for change in how we report citywide data on Asian Americans is now,” said Nadia Islam, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health.
“The collection of data is critical to identifying and meeting the health and human service needs of LGBTQ New Yorkers, such as substance abuse counseling, mental health treatment, and assistance for seniors and youth,” said Matthew T. McMorrow, Director of Operational Transition of the Empire State Pride Agenda.” Government-collected data determine which programs are created, which organizations are funded, and which health disparities are prioritized. Without this critical information about the LGBT and other communities, it is difficult for government resources to be targeted effectively or efficiently. We urge the City Council to make these important bills a priority.”
“The Arab-American Family Support Center stands in solidarity with the Asian Pacific American organizations and communities to tell City leaders: Invisible No More! We know that by not recognizing the various ethnic Asian American including Arab Americans, we do not do justice to the true diversity that exists within New York City, ” said Lena Alhusseini, Executive Director of the Arab-American Family Support Center. ” We call upon City leaders to remove the cloak of invisibility that shrouds our communities and ensure our full recognition in all City data collection procedures.”
“As a professor and researcher at CUNY, we need to disaggregate data so that we can advocate for subgroups who are lumped under a general Asian American umbrella and presumed to be doing well, ” said Kevin Nadal, Ph.D., President of the Asian American Psychological Association and Executive Director of the CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. “For example, studies find that LGBTQ Asian Americans often have multiple mental health issues and limited access to resources; yet, without proper data collection, the true prevalence of this issue is unknown and this huge part of the community continues to be underserved.”
“As a small organization serving a community of 10,000 Southeast Asian refugees in the Bronx, Mekong NYC recognizes that every group within the ‘Asian’ category has its own unique history, needs, and challenges. Improved data collection would help to increase greatly needed culturally sensitive and targeted services to our Cambodian and Vietnamese communities,” said Chhaya Chhoum, Executive Director of Mekong NYC. “Additionally, as a mother of multi-racial children living in New York City, I would cherish the opportunity for my kids to identify as multi-racial for them to know that their identities and their histories matter.”
“Accurate and robust data collection is extremely important to help us better understand conditions, diseases, and other health issues that specifically and disproportionately affect Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities,” said Iyanrick John, Policy Director of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum. “The lack of disaggregated race and ethnicity data masks inequities in health status and access among certain subgroups. The good news is that there are now several promising practices at the state and federal levels to collect and disseminate better data, much in the way New York City is leading in this area through these three critical bills.”
“The data equity bills would continue New York City’s long tradition of leading the country on both legal and lived equality for all residents, including LGBT people and their families,” said Laura E. Durso, Ph.D., Senior Director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress. “Even in localities with comprehensive non-discrimination laws and strong social services, inclusive data collection remains necessary to craft effective solutions to the remaining challenges facing residents of all ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Passing these bills would send a powerful signal that in New York, all people are seen, counted, and valued.”
The adoption of standard approaches to disaggregation will improve the delivery of vital services to New York’s residents. Agencies will be able to rely on information that reflects the diversity of demographics and service needs in the City’s population. This is especially critical to develop vital programs in a timely and efficient manner.