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New poll finds record number of Americans identify as LGBT

Story at a glance

  • Gallup researchers found that a record high number of U.S. adults identify as LGBT community members.
  • Some trends saw that younger adults are more likely to be part of the LGBT demographic.

Roughly 5.6 percent of U.S. adults, or 18 million people, identify as part of the LGBT community, or specifically, as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals, according to new national data from Gallup.

Based on historical data accumulated by the company, this is a record high figure since 2012. This is a large jump from 2017 figures, which found 4.5 percent of U.S. adults identified being part of the LGBT spectrum.

These results stem from more than 15,000 interviews conducted between Gallup researchers and American citizens aged 18 years or older in 2020. The survey notes that the results discuss adults who identify as LGBT, but does not comment on the broader LGBTQ+ community.

Notably, the survey allowed respondents to tailor their response when discussing their gender identity instead of leaving the standard binary “yes” or “no” as the only answer options.

Among many of the trends identified in these responses, researchers saw younger generations as significantly more likely to have a sexual identity other than heterosexual.

“At a time when Americans are increasingly supportive of equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender people, a growing percentage of Americans identify themselves as LGBT,” the report reads. “With younger generations far more likely than older generations to consider themselves LGBT, that growth should continue.”

Within Generation Z, the youngest adult demographic who are aged between 18 to 23 in 2020, about 1 in 6 are likely to identify as LGBT. Some 11.5 percent reported identifying as bisexual. Another two percent identified as gay, lesbian, or transgender.

Other trends include women respondents being more likely to identify as LGBT than their male counterparts, as well as more likely to identify as bisexual. 

Results also differ along party lines. Some 8.8 percent of Democrats identify as LGBT, with 1.7 percent of Republicans including themselves in the LGBT community.

Interestingly, these distinctions become more pronounced when asking respondents about their political ideology. Some 13 percent of adults who identify as political liberals report being members of the LGBT community, while just 2.3 percent of conservatives say the same. 

In addition to these figures, 86.7 percent of U.S. adults identify as heterosexual or straight. 

Gallup concludes that the large differences in LGBT association coincide with age. This correlation raises questions regarding if “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.”