Friday, October 19, 2012

Gallup Estimates Adult LGBT Population At 3.4%

Gallup on Thursday released a Special Report which indicates that 3.4% of adult Americans self-identify as LGBT. The report was written by the most prominent Demographer of the LGBT community in the United States, Dr. Gary Gates of the William Institute and Frank Newport.

The Williams Institute sent out a press release summarizing the findings:
Non-white Americans more likely to identify as LGBT
African-Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities are more likely than white Americans to identify as LGBT.  The results show that 4.6% of African-Americans identify as LGBT along with 4.0% of Hispanics and 4.3% of Asians. Among white Americans, the figure was 3.2%.
Younger Americans three times more likely than seniors to identify as LGBT
Younger Americans (age 18-29) are more than three times as likely as seniors aged 65 and older to identify as LGBT (6.4% v. 1.9%, respectively).  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.
A larger portion of lower educated Americans identify as LGBT compared to college graduates
Contrary to many studies using smaller data samples, Americans with lower levels of education are more likely than their higher educated counterparts to identify as LGBT.  Among those with a high school education or less, 3.5% identify as LGBT compared to 2.8% of those with a college degree and 3.2% of those with a graduate education.  LGBT identification is highest among those with some college education but not a college degree, at 4.0%.
LGBT women are as likely as non-LGBT women to be raising children
The analyses also show that raising children under age 18 in the home is as common among LGBT women as it is among non-LGBT women.  In both groups, about a third had children.  That was also true of non-LGBT men.  Just 16% of them were raising a child in their home.
The main aspect of the report is that it uses an incredibly large sample size of 121,290 adults 18 and older, taken in phone surveys between June 1 to September 30, 2012.

Note that there are really important and surprising results here, namely that the LGBT population is younger, lower-educated and less white than the general population. It is very interesting to me that the racial or ethnic group that is the most likely to respond affirmatively to a pollster that they are LGBT are African-Americans! It's also notable that the youngest co-hort (those under age 29) are the age group most likely to respond that they are LGBT (6.4%), far greater than the oldest cohort of 65 and older, where only 1.9% will say they are LGBT and also has the largest cohort of people who refuse to answer the question (6.5%).

The most important point to take away from this study is to realize that of course the number of 3.4% is at most a lower-bound for the percentage of American adults who are actually LGBT. All this number tells is what percentage of people would be willing to tell someone over the phone who knows their name and number that they are indeed LGBT.

That being said, while some people will quibble with the overall number of 3.4%, clinging to the widely disputed statistic that 10% of adults are LGBT attributed to the Kinsey Report, in my opinion it is very important to celebrate the usefulness of study and analysis of the demographics of the LGBT population.

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