Debated but not counted: Measuring the LGBT community with Mohamed Younis and Dr. Gary Gates

Last week, The Gallup Podcast with host Mohamed Younis invited leading LGBT demographer, Dr. Gary Gates, to help unpack Gallup’s 2021 update on the growing U.S. LGBT community and to discuss why these numbers make a big difference for public policy, visibility and increasing social acceptance.

gay couple

The 20+ minute podcast is worth listening to if you find this sort of discussion interesting. The podcast opens with the host asking Dr. Gates why this research even matters? Gates points out that long before the LGBT community was being counted, it was the subect of a lot of public debate and laws despite very little being known about these people in an empircal sense.

Due to laws that were passed, harrassment by police and the general public, few were comfortable identifying as LGBT when demographers started asking people questions about their sexuality. Over time, people became more inclined to self-identify in pockets. Men and women who lived in more accepting places self-identified in greater percentages and numbers first but this took time for demographers to realize and explains why larger percentages of the population initially were found in enclaves like San Francisco.

5.6% of the US now identify as LGBT: Why this number continues to grow

When the LGBT community first started being counted in the early 2000s a little more than 3% of the population self-identified as such, but as laws that discriminated against the LGBT community were overturned or found unconstitutional, growing public acceptance followed and more came forward. In Gallup’s most recent poll, 5.6% of the US population now identifies as LGBT (up from 4.5% in 2017).

Based on what Dr. Gates shared, it seems likely that the LGBT community is going to continue to grow. In the Gallup survey one of the most striking data points shared was that 1 in 6 members of Gen Z (those born between 1997 – 2015) self-identify as LGBT. Members of Gen Z range in age between 6 – 24 and are 68 million strong, representing 21% of the total United States population.

The fastest growing portion of the LGBT community is those identifying as bisexual and this is largely being driven by young women. The bisexual community now accounts for more than half of the LGBT community and is likely to continue to grow when you consider Gen Y and Gen Z’s views towards sexuality and gender identification.

If you find this subject of interest, you can listen to the 23 minute podcast here, ‘Debated but Not Counted’: Measuring the LGBT Community. You can also read the findings published by Gallup here.

Hat tip to Kenneth in the 212 for sharing this on his blog last week.


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