Publication - FOI/EIR release

COVID-19 survey gender identity questions: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
29 Apr 2021
COVID-19 survey gender identity questions: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202100173238
Date received: 1 Mar 2021
Date responded: 7 Apr 2021
Information requested

"I have been taking the above survey, run on the Scottish Government's behalf by Progressive Research. One of the demographic questions asks what is my 'gender identity', and gives response options pertaining to biological sex (male and female), as well as "other gender identity" and "prefer not to say".

Since gender identity, within the terms implied by the question, is not a scientifically valid concept and has no empirical basis whatsoever, I wish to know the following:

1. Who wrote the survey questions?

2. Did any organisation external to the Scottish Government have input in the writing of the questions? If so, which organisations?  Was any taxpayers' money given to these organisations for this purpose? If so, how much?

3. What is the definition of 'gender identity', according to the Scottish Government?

4. Why was sex (a stable, recognised scientific concept) not used in the survey?

5. Does the Scottish Government have a policy regarding accurate collection of data?

6. What influence have organisations such as Stonewall, the Equality Network, Scottish Trans Alliance, and other nominally 'LQBT' organisations with the same political slant, upon the drafting and production of work commissioned by or on behalf of the Scottish Government?

7. Does the Scottish Government believe that extremely biased political viewpoints such as 'Queer Theory' override empirical science, or does science have a place in the development of Scottish Government policy?"

Response

1. Who wrote the survey questions?
This is standard wording used by Progressive and many other market research organisations. However, this question is under review at Progressive currently.

2. Did any organisation external to the Scottish Government have input in the writing of the questions? If so, which organisations? Was any taxpayers' money given to these organisations for this purpose? If so, how much?
See response to question 1 above.

3. What is the definition of 'gender identity', according to the Scottish Government?
Gender identity is a person’s innate sense of their own gender, whether male, female or another identity. Organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the Royal Statistical Society define gender as: a social construction relating to behaviours and attributes based on labels of masculinity and femininity; gender identity as: a personal, internal perception of oneself and so the gender category someone identifies with may not match their sex at birth; what an individual experiences as their innate sense of themselves as a man, a woman, as having no gender, or as having a non-binary gender – where people identify as somewhere on a spectrum between man and woman.

4. Why was sex (a stable, recognised scientific concept) not used in the survey?
Progressive have stated: ‘We ask gender as a standard rather than sex. We believe that gender is a more inclusive question as it reflects a person’s identity which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth. This takes reasonable steps to ensure that participants are able to provide information in a way that reflects the view they want to express about themselves’.

5. Does the Scottish Government have a policy regarding accurate collection of data?
Official statistics that are released by the Scottish Government are produced and published in accordance with the UK Statistics Authority’s Code of Practice for Statistics; accurate collection of data is mentioned specifically in Q3.3 'The quality of the statistics and data, including their accuracy and reliability, coherence and comparability, and timeliness and punctuality, should be monitored and reported regularly. Statistics should be validated through comparison with other relevant statistics and data sources. The extent and nature of any uncertainty in the estimates should be clearly explained.' The Government Statistical Service (GSS) guidance hub also has details of relevant statistics policies and guidance, including on the topic of quality.

6. What influence have organisations such as Stonewall, the Equality Network, Scottish Trans Alliance, and other nominally 'LQBT' organisations with the same political slant, upon the drafting and production of work commissioned by or on behalf of the Scottish Government?
The Scottish Government’s work is guided by our National Performance Framework. This includes a national outcome for human rights, which states ‘We respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination’. To this end, we consult with a wide variety of stakeholders representing a range of opinions, as well as opening up consultations to the public. We consider the evidence from all sources.

7. Does the Scottish Government believe that extremely biased political viewpoints such as 'Queer Theory' override empirical science, or does science have a place in the development of Scottish Government policy?
The Scottish Government’s work is guided by our National Performance Framework. This includes a national outcome for human rights, which states ‘We respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination’. To this end, we consult with a wide variety of stakeholders representing a range of opinions, as well as opening up consultations to the public. We consider the evidence from all sources.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

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