Respect Equality

As LGBTQ+ population grows, political representation tanks

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Story at a glance

  • As the LGBTQ+ population soars to record highs, LGBTQ+ political representation may be more important than ever, the LGBTQ Victory Institute said Friday.
  • Just over 1,000 elected officials nationwide identify as openly LGBTQ+, representing just 0.2 percent of people in elected positions.
  • To achieve parity at 7.1 percent of the population, nearly 36,000 more LGBTQ+ people would need to be elected to public office, according to the LGBTQ Victory Institute.

Gallup data released Thursday revealed the nation’s LGBTQ+ population had expanded yet again, accounting for 7.1 percent of the population in 2021 compared to 5.6 percent in 2020. But as the number of LGBTQ+ Americans increases, the pace at which LGBTQ+ officials are elected to public office lags far behind, according to data published Friday by the LGBTQ Victory Institute.

To achieve equitable representation at 7.1 percent of the population, nearly 36,000 more LGBTQ+ people would need to be elected to public office, the group said Friday. Currently, just over 1,000 elected officials nationwide identify as openly LGBTQ+, according to Out for America, representing just 0.2 percent of people in elected positions.

LGBTQ Victory Institute President and CEO Annise Parker – formerly the mayor of Houston – said Friday that there’s a long way to go toward equality, particularly as LGBTQ+ people have historically been shut out of public office.

“It is encouraging to see the number of out LGBTQ people continue to grow and that a historic number of young people feel safe and confident to be open about their sexual orientation and gender identity. While this is a momentous time for our community, we still have a long way to go to gain equitable inclusion and representation in politics,” she said in a statement.


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“LGBTQ people have historically been disenfranchised from government positions and this new data reveals the need to continue building momentum behind the Rainbow Wave until we achieve parity. Equitable representation cannot simply be an aspiration, it must be a reality. Our rights depend on it,” she said.

Parker isn’t wrong. At least 25 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year, according to Freedom for All Americans, a bipartisan group advocating for LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections.

The Gallup data published Thursday showed the nation’s LGBTQ+ population had doubled from a decade earlier, mostly because of a higher prevalence among younger Millennials and the young adults of Generation Z.

Just over a fifth of Generation Z born between 1997 and 2003 identify as LGBTQ+, according to Gallup, compared to 10.5 percent of Millennials, 4.2 percent of Gen Xers and 2.6 percent of Baby Boomers.

In Congress, Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964 – represent the majority, accounting for more than half of voting members in the House and nearly 70 percent of voting members in the Senate.

According to the LGBTQ Victory Institute, to achieve equitable representation, voters would have to elect two more LGBTQ+ state governors, 19 LGBTQ+ statewide executives, five LGBTQ+ U.S. Senators, 22 LGBTQ+ U.S. House members, 338 LGBTQ+ state legislators, and 96 LGBTQ+ mayors of cities with a population greater than 30,000.


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