Saturday, February 16, 2013

REPORT: LGBT Population Measured in Every State

The William Institute's Gary Gates is the author of a new report that analyzes Gallup data to produce a geographical distribution of the LGBT population throughout the United States. Previously, he had co-authored a report that estimated that the LGBT population of the United States is 3.4% of adult Americans (above 18 years old).

This new report illustrates that the distribution of the LGBT population is not uniform (as one would expect), with a minimum of 1.7% in  North Dakota and maximum of 10% in District of Columbia.

The Top 10 states with the highest percentages of respondents to the question "Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?" are depicted below.

The report attempts to posit a reason for the relatively small variation in the LGBT percentage among the states:
In general, states where residents express more liberal views are more accepting of LGBT individuals, while socially conservative areas are less accepting. Of the 10 states and D.C. where at least 4% of respondents identified as LGBT, seven are among the most liberal states in the country. Conversely, six of 10 states with the lowest percentage of LGBT-identified adults are among the top 10 conservative states in the country.
The states with proportionally larger LGBT populations generally have supportive LGBT legal climates. With the exception of South Dakota, all of the states that have LGBT populations of at least 4% have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and allow same-sex couples to marry, enter into a civil union, or register as domestic partners. Of the 10 states with the lowest percentage of LGBT adults, only Iowa has such laws.
Higher proportions of LGBT individuals in a state could also suggest that LGBT individuals move there in higher proportions than the general population does. While highly concentrated (and mostly male) LGBT neighborhoods exist in many cities and are certainly in part a result of this type of migration, little is known about the broader migration patterns of the LGBT community. Given prior Gallup findings showing that the LGBT population is disproportionately young, female, and nonwhite -- all of which are groups with economic disadvantages that could limit their abilities to move -- it seems unlikely that migration is the primary reason for variation in LGBT identification across states.
From a broad perspective, the variation in the percentage of adults across U.S. states who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is relatively small. At the same time, the variation does provide interesting information about LGBT identification and its possible relationship to the ideological and legal climate in different states. All states are within a couple of percentage points of the overall LGBT national average of 3.5%. The LGBT adult population estimate is above 5% only in the District of Columbia and Hawaii, and below 2% only in North Dakota. 
States with high LGBT percentages tend to be more liberal and have more supportive LGBT legal climates, while those at the lower end of the LGBT spectrum are generally the most conservative. This suggests that one explanation for the variation across states is the relationship between the willingness to disclose LGBT identity and the environment of one's state of residence. It is also possible that LGBT adults make conscious choices to reside in certain states rather than others, but this possibility is difficult to assess and seems less likely.
I think it is very important to get good information about size and diversity of the LGBT population. As people who believe in LGBT equality, we can fight discrimination and rank homophobia with factual data and appeals to fairness and reason.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin