As sexual orientation and gender identity were voluntary questions in the census, missing values on census responses were legitimate responses. So, (unlike with mandatory questions) we did not impute values to replace those missing on received responses. This means that these questions include a "not answered" category in standard outputs. Any write-in responses that did not relate to the question were coded as if the question had not been answered. Take care to not confuse between proportions of all people aged 16 years and over falling in a particular category and proportions of all people aged 16 years and over who answered the question falling in that category.
Data collection and coding
Census data on sexual orientation and gender identity are derived from the tick boxes selected and write-in terms provided by respondents. It is possible that proxy responses for these sensitive topics may be less accurate than for other topics. A proxy response is where someone has answered the census questions on behalf of someone else. Answers for these questions did not always correspond to well-defined concepts and write-in answers have been coded, both automatically and manually, to categories shown in published tables.
Student adjustment for sexual orientation and gender identity
An adjustment made to improve the estimation of students living at their term-time address will have slightly increased the proportion of “Not answered” and decreased proportions of other categories. Take care when interpreting data for 18- to 22-year-olds or, specifically, full-time students. Other than this, the effect of this adjustment should not materially affect analysis of these topics.
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Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 6 January 2023, ONS website, methodology, Sexual orientation and gender identity quality information for Census 2021.
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