American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

New Survey Sheds Light on Number of LGBT Americans

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How many people out there are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?

That’s a hard thing to measure since identity involves complex social and cultural patterns. As Gallup notes, because of strong social stigma (as we learned during the AFER’s Prop. 8 trial) many respondents might not want to identify themselves as LGBT in a survey.

But now, in the largest study about the distribution of LGBT Americans, over 120,000 people and counting, Gallup has estimated that 3.4% of the American population identifies as LGBT.

The initial report also clearly shows who makes up the LGBT population, dispelling the myth that most LGBT people are older, rich, white gay men.

  • Nonwhite Individuals Are More Likely to Identify as LGBT
    The survey results show that 4.6% of African-Americans identify as LGBT, along with 4.0% of Hispanics and 4.3% of Asians. The disproportionately higher representation of LGBT status among nonwhite population segments corresponds to the slightly below-average 3.2% of white Americans who identified as LGBT.
  • Younger Americans Are More Likely to Identify as LGBT
    Adults aged 18 to 29 (6.4%) are more than three times as likely as seniors aged 65 and older (1.9%) to identify as LGBT. Among those aged 30 to 64, LGBT identity declines with age — at 3.2% for 30- to 49-year-olds and 2.6% for 50- to 64-year-olds.
  • Women Are Slightly More Likely to Identify as LGBT Than Are Men

Although the difference is not large, women are slightly more likely to identify as LGBT than are men (3.6% vs. 3.3%) — a finding that is consistent with other surveys. Put differently, more than 53% of LGBT individuals are women.

  • LGBT Americans Tend to Have Lower Levels of Education and Income
    Gallup’s analysis shows that identification as LGBT is highest among Americans with the lowest levels of education. Among those with a high school education or less, 3.5% identify as LGBT, compared with 2.8% of those with a college degree and 3.2% of those with postgraduate education. LGBT identification is highest among those with some college education but not a college degree, at 4.0%.

A similar pattern is found across income groups. More than 5% of those with incomes of less than $24,000 a year identify as LGBT, a higher proportion than among those with higher incomes — including 2.8% of those making $60,000 a year or more.

Read more about the report at >

Topics: Blog, Polling