3.4 percent of U.S. adults identify as LGBT

A Gallup study finds surprisingly low numbers and challenges to assumptions about race and wealth

By Natasha Lennard

Published October 19, 2012 7:53PM (EDT)

A nationwide Gallup study based on interviews with 121,000 people found that 3.4 percent of U.S. adults identify as either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. As the AP reports, the study may serve to upend current prevailing beliefs about sexuality:

"Contemporary media often think of LGBT people as disproportionately white, male, urban and pretty wealthy," said the report's lead author, demographer Gary Gates of the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute. "But the data reveal that, relative to the general population, the LGBT population has a larger proportion of non-white people and clearly is not overly wealthy."

According to the survey, which was conducted between June and September, 4.6 percent of African Americans identify as LGBT, along with 4 percent of Hispanics, 4.3 percent of Asians and 3.2 percent of whites.

Overall, a third of those identifying as LGBT are non-white, the report said.

... the Gallup survey found 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 percent identify as LGBT, compared with 2.8 percent of those with a college degree and 3.2 percent of those with postgraduate education.

In terms of age distinctions, 6.4 percent of respondents who were between 18 to 29 years old identified as LBGT, with 8.3 percent of women in that age bracket identifying as LBGT. Many people will find the number of self-identifying LGBT individuals surprisingly low. Gallup noted, "Measuring sexual orientation and gender identity can be challenging since these concepts involve complex social and cultural patterns. As a group still subject to social stigma, many of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may not be forthcoming about this identity when asked about it in a survey." The study also does not fully account for non-straight individuals who choose not to identify within the LGBT categories.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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