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Nearly 16% of Americans aged between 18 and 23 identify as LGBTQ

A record 5.6 percent of Americans now identify as LGBTQ, the majority of whom say they are bisexual, according to a new survey.

Gallup on Tuesday published its latest update on LGBTQ identification, showing a 1.1 percent increase since the poll was last conducted in 2017.

It marks the largest increase since the survey began in 2012, with an estimated 18 million adults in America identifying as LGBTQ last year.

The results, based on more than 15,000 interviews conducted throughout 2020 with Americans aged 18 and older, found that younger generations were more likely to say they are LGBTQ with one in six Generation Z adults aged between 18 and 23 – or 15.9 percent – identifying as such.

This dropped to less than two percent in respondents who were born before 1965.   

An estimated that a record 5.6 percent of all Americans now identify as LGBTQ

A record 15.9% of Generation Z Americans now identify as LGBTQ, according to a new poll from Gallup published Wednesday. Less than 2% of those born before 1965 do

A record 15.9% of Generation Z Americans now identify as LGBTQ, according to a new poll from Gallup published Wednesday. Less than 2% of those born before 1965 do

‘One of the main reasons LGBT identification has been increasing over time is that younger generations are far more likely to consider themselves to be something other than heterosexual,’ wrote Gallup senior editor Jeff Jones.

‘It reflects what we are seeing in society and the way society is changing.’

‘The pronounced generational differences raise questions about whether higher LGBT identification in younger than older Americans reflects a true shift in sexual orientation, or if it merely reflects a greater willingness of younger people to identify as LGBT,’ Jones added.

‘To the extent it reflects older Americans not wanting to acknowledge an LGBT orientation, the Gallup estimates may underestimate the actual population prevalence of it.’

Prior to this year, the most the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBTQ had increased was by .4 points between 2016 and 2017.

It has climbed from 3.5 percent in 2012, just over a two percent increase in 18 years.

In last year’s survey, Gallup reported that 86.7 percent of Americans say they are heterosexual or straight, while 7.6 percent do not answer the question about their sexual orientation.

This response had grown from an average of 5 percent in previous surveys.

In prior years, Gallup had not asked respondents to identify their exact sexual orientation, only asking for yes or no answers in response to whether or not they were LGBTQ.

With the inclusion of the question in 2020, it found that 54.6 percent identify as bisexual while almost a quarter say they are gay.

Another 11.7 percent identified as lesbian and 11.3 percent as transgender. 

And a further 3.3 percent volunteered another non-heterosexual preference such as queer or same-gender-loving.

The results found that an estimated 11.5% of Gen Z Americans identify as bisexual. This drops to below 2% for Americans born before 1980, as pictured above

The results found that an estimated 11.5% of Gen Z Americans identify as bisexual. This drops to below 2% for Americans born before 1980, as pictured above

The Gallup poll found that most LGBTQ Americans identify as bisexual, as pictured

The Gallup poll found that most LGBTQ Americans identify as bisexual, as pictured

The Gallup poll in 2020 had marked the biggest increase in Americans identifying as LGBTQ

The Gallup poll in 2020 had marked the biggest increase in Americans identifying as LGBTQ

A record 15.9% of Generation Z Americans now identify as LGBTQ, according to a new poll from Gallup published Wednesday. Less than 2% of those born before 1965 do

 A record 15.9% of Generation Z Americans now identify as LGBTQ, according to a new poll from Gallup published Wednesday. Less than 2% of those born before 1965 do

Gallup estimates from these results that within the entire US adult population, 3.1 percent of Americans identify as bisexual, 1.4 percent as gay, 0.7 percent as lesbian and 0.6 percent as transgender.

The number of Americans identifying as bisexual is far higher among younger generations.

The Gallup poll found 72 percent of Generation Z adults who identify as LGBT say they are bisexual compared to half of millennials. It falls significantly lower in older generations.

The survey estimated as a result that 11.5 percent of American Gen Z adults identify as bisexual. This falls to 5.1 percent among Millennials, 1.8 percent in Generation X and 0.3 percent in Baby Boomers and Traditionalists.

As well as the divide by generations, the poll also found significant gender difference among the respondents.

According to the Gallup report, women are more likely than men to identify as LGBT – 6.4 percent vs. 4.9 percent, respectively – and women are also more likely to identify as bisexual.

Political differences also showed up with 13 percent of liberals identifying as LGBT, 4.4 percent of moderates and 2.3 percent of conservatives.

The divide was not as significant among party lines. The survey estimated that 8.8 percent of Democrats identify as LGBTQ, 6.5 percent of independents and 1.7 percent of Republicans.

However, the survey also found that there appears to be no meaningful divide in terms of education.

College graduates identify as LGBTQ at 5.6 percent compared to 5.7 percent of college nongraduates.

Following the release of the survey on Wednesday, LGBTQ advocates said they were not surprised to see 'generational shifts in awareness and acceptance' from the results

Following the release of the survey on Wednesday, LGBTQ advocates said they were not surprised to see ‘generational shifts in awareness and acceptance’ from the results

Following the release of the survey on Wednesday, LGBTQ advocates said they were not surprised to see ‘generational shifts in awareness and acceptance’ from the results.

‘I have had conversations with many older LGBTQ people who break down in tears when they share their coming-out stories of decades ago – heart-wrenching stories of family rejection, losing parents, losing siblings, losing jobs,’ Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project, told USA Today.

‘Older generations grew up during those times when being LGBTQ could land you in jail, or alone or jobless.

‘The younger generations haven’t experienced this level of fear where often being in the closet felt less like a choice and more like a survival mechanism,’ she added, stating that parents have created environments where young people feel safe coming out.

Cathy Renna, communications director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, claimed that it also came from increased representation in the media in recent years.

‘Children are taught prejudice, and when LGBTQ people are part of their lives from the beginning, they understand that they can be themselves and are not alone,’ she said to USA Today.

‘Young people do not want to check off a box; they want to be able to express themselves authentically and acknowledge all their identities’.

Tracking the number of LGBTQ Americans has been debated in recent years, according to Gallup.

‘Exactly who makes up the LGBT community and how this group should be measured is a subject of some debate,’ the organization wrote in its first survey in 2012.

‘There are a number of ways to measure lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientation, and transgender status. Sexual orientation can be assessed by measuring identity as well as sexual behaviors and attractions.’

It comes after early attempts to place a figure on the section of the population have now been called into question.

A prominent study by Alfred Kinsey of sexuality in men from the 1950s claimed that 10 percent of the U.S. population is gay or lesbian but his methods of collecting the data – including tracking down respondents in prisons – have been criticized.

In 2011, Gary J. Gates from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law published ‘The Gay and Lesbian Atlas’ which claimed that the figure was closer to 3.8 percent, which was in line with the Gallup results from the following year.

‘The largest reason is that we don’t ask,’ Gates told NPR of the uncertainty.

‘We just don’t ask these on the major federal surveys that are used typically to count Americans or to kind of gauge the health and wellbeing of Americans. These surveys, just for the most part, don’t include questions about sexual orientation or gender identity.’

The U.S. Census Bureau does not ask respondents to mark their sexual orientation but has asked about living in same-sex households.

The American Community Survey has also not historically included questions on sexual orientation.

Gallup had previously found in 2015 that Americans greatly overestimate the percentage of the population who are gay or lesbian.

A survey they conducted that years found that Americans believed 23 percent of the population to be gay or lesbian when they found only 3.8 percent of the adult population identified as LGBTQ that year.


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