Monday, October 11, 2010

New Report Estimates LGB Population In U.S. At 9%

The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School, a think tank devoted to sexual orientation law and public policy, has released a report (pdf) which analyzes national demographic surveys to tease out interesting information about the national lesbian, gay and bisexual population.

From the Executive Summary:
Data from the 2008 General Social Survey (GSS) indicate that nearly 9% of adults either identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual or report having had same‐sex sexual experiences as an adult. Although 90% of LGB people are out about their identity to other people, only 25% report being out to all of their coworkers in the workplace. The data show that bisexuals differ in several ways from those who identify as gay or lesbian, including being much less likely to be out or have a high school diploma and being much more likely to be women and/or racial or ethnic minorities.
Surveys that ask questions about sexual orientation and behavior are rare. Among the few surveys that ask these questions, few are representative of the US population. Even rarer is information about the coming out process from such surveys. As a result, little is known about how and if thinking of oneself as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, or experiencing same‐sex sexual behaviors and telling others about one’s sexual orientation or behavior varies by sex, age, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment.

The General Social Survey (GSS), conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, has monitored social and demographic changes in the United States since 1972. The 2008 GSS marks the first time that survey participants were asked about their sexual orientation (prior surveys had only asked about same‐sex sexual behavior). The 2008 survey also includes a module of questions (added with the financial support of the Williams Institute) directed at sexual minorities that ask about the experience of coming out, relationship status and family structure, workplace and housing discrimination, and health insurance coverage.
Other results that are included in the report are:

·        1.7% of adults self-identified as gay or lesbian and 1.1% self-identified as bisexual
·        More than 3 in 4 lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) adults say that they were first attracted to someone of the same-sex before they were 18 years old.
·        Women are more likely than men to be LGB (4.6% vs. 2.9%).    They are twice as likely to be bisexual than men (1.9% v. 0.7%, respectively).
·        Younger people are more likely to  be LGB.  7.2% of those aged 18-30 are LGB compared with 3.8% of those aged 30-54 and 1.4% of those aged 55 and older.
·         Gay men and lesbians are more likely than bisexuals to be out to at least some people (96% vs. 75%, respectively).
·         Older people are much more likely to be in the closet .   Adults over the age of 55 are 83 times more likely than those under 30 to have never come out to another person.
·         Bisexuals are more likely to be a racial/ethnic minority than heterosexuals, gay men, or lesbians.   More than half of bisexuals are non-white compared to approximately 30% of heterosexuals, gay men and lesbian.  The racial and ethnic characteristics of gay men, lesbians, and heterosexuals are similar to each other.
The author of the report is Williams Distinguished Scholar Dr. Gary Gates who says:

"These provocative findings demonstrate the challenge in understanding the
complex relationship between sexual orientation identity and behavior.
Given that nearly half of Americans still believe that homosexual
relationships are morally wrong, it is not surprising to find ambiguity
between how people behave sexually and how they identify their sexual

1 comment:

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