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Integrated Household Survey sexual identity question: Metro, Observer and Independent, 23, 26 and 27 September 2010

Several newspapers suggested that data from the Integrated Household Survey on sexual identity were obtained by 'doorstepping' members of the public. Joe Grice wrote to point out that survey respondents were contacted in advance and the data was collected confidentially, and that the question asked about self-perceived sexual identity rather than the wider question of sexual orientation.

 

Independent, 27 September 2010

Dear Sir,

Contrary to your article "Only Gay in the Village? Not quite" on Monday 27 September 2010 about the Integrated Household Sexual Identity statistics, which stated that the Office for National Statistics had collected data on the sexual identity of UK adults by doorstepping members of the public.

ONS takes confidentiality very seriously in all our surveys and does not undertake doorstep surveys or ‘cold call’ households. Interviews are carried out by trained permanent civil servants to high international standards. All ONS social surveys are voluntary and we rely on the goodwill of the public to make our surveys successful. Prior to one of our interviewers calling on a sampled address, a letter is sent to the householder advising them that they have been selected for one of our studies. The letter informs them of the topic of the study, how their address has been selected and provides details of ONS. We also offer a freephone number that the householder can call to seek further details as well as a website where we address many of the questions people have about our surveys.

In the case of collecting information regarding Sexual Identity, ONS asks a question on a respondent's self perceived sexual identity rather than looking to measure the wider concept of sexual orientation. Following consultation and testing, it was decided that a single question on sexual identity was most appropriate to ask in general purpose household surveys. Interviewers ask respondents which option (Heterosexual/Straight, Gay/lesbian, Bisexual and other) best describes how they think of themselves. The question is asked in such a way that maintains confidentiality between household members.

Yours faithfully,
Joe Grice
Director of Economic & Social Analysis
Government Buildings
Cardiff Road
Newport
NP10 8XG

Observer, 27 September 2010

Dear Sir,

Contrary to your article "Sexual Preference" on Sunday 26 September 2010 about the Integrated Household Sexual Identity statistics, which stated that the Office for National Statistics had collected data on the sexual identity of UK adults by appearing on the doorsteps of members of the public and showing people a card of options.

ONS takes confidentiality very seriously in all our surveys and does not undertake doorstep surveys or ‘cold call’ households. Interviews are carried out by trained permanent civil servants to high international standards. All ONS social surveys are voluntary and we rely on the goodwill of the public to make our surveys successful. Prior to one of our interviewers calling on a sampled address, a letter is sent to the householder advising them that they have been selected for one of our studies. The letter informs them of the topic of the study, how their address has been selected and provides details of ONS. We also offer a freephone number that the householder can call to seek further details as well as a website where we address many of the questions people have about our surveys.

In the case of collecting information regarding sexual identity, ONS asks a question on a respondent's self perceived sexual identity rather than looking to measure the wider concept of sexual orientation or their sexual preference and behaviours. Following consultation and testing, it was decided that a single question on sexual identity was most appropriate to ask in general purpose household surveys. Interviewers ask respondents which option (Heterosexual/Straight, Gay/lesbian, Bisexual and other) best describes how they think of themselves. The question is asked in such a way that maintains confidentiality between household members.

Yours faithfully,
Joe Grice
Director of Economic & Social Analysis
Government Buildings
Cardiff Road
Newport
NP10 8XG

Metro, 27 September 2010

Dear Sir,

Contrary to your article "It's official just 1.5 per cent of us are gay or bisexual" (Thursday 23 September 2010) about the Integrated Household Sexual Identity statistics, which included a quote from Stonewall stating that the Office for National Statistics had collected data by appearing on the doorsteps of members of the public.

ONS takes confidentiality very seriously in all our surveys and does not undertake doorstep surveys or ‘cold call’ households. Interviews are carried out by trained permanent civil servants to high international standards. All ONS social surveys are voluntary and we rely on the goodwill of the public to make our surveys successful. Prior to one of our interviewers calling on a sampled address, a letter is sent to the householder advising them that they have been selected for one of our studies. The letter informs them of the topic of the study, how their address has been selected and provides details of ONS. We also offer a freephone number that the householder can call to seek further details as well as a website where we address many of the questions people have about our surveys.

In the case of collecting information regarding sexual identity, ONS asks a question on a respondent's self perceived sexual identity rather than looking to measure the wider concept of sexual orientation or their sexual preference and behaviours. Following consultation and testing, it was decided that a single question on sexual identity was most appropriate to ask in general purpose household surveys. Interviewers ask respondents which option (Heterosexual/Straight, Gay/lesbian, Bisexual and other) best describes how they think of themselves. The question is asked in such a way that maintains confidentiality between household members.

Yours faithfully,
Joe Grice
Director of Economic & Social Analysis
Government Buildings
Cardiff Road
Newport
NP10 8XG

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