A survey of 121,000 Americans has shown that 3.4% publicly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
‘This is the largest single study of the distribution of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population in the US on record,’ said the authors of the report Gary J Gates and Frank Newport in the introduction.
The report also noted that ‘the results from this analysis run counter to some media stereotypes that portray the LGBT community as predominantly white, highly educated, and very wealthy’.
When broken down by race, the survey showed that 4.6% of black American, 4% of Hispanic and 4.3% of Asian respondents identify as LGBT compared to 3.2% of white respondents.
The survey shows that LGBT Americans tend to have lower levels of education and income than the general population. The largest percentage of LGBT respondents reported ‘some college’ (4%), with 3.5% reporting only a high school education compared to 2.8% who said they were college graduates and 3.2% postgraduates.
For income, 5.1% reported a salary of less than $24,000 a year compared to 3.6% in the $24,000-$60,000 band and 2.8% in both the $60,000-$90,000 and over $90,000 band.
The survey also found that more women (3.6%) are likely to identify as LGBT than men (3.2%) and that young Americans aged 18 to 29 (6.4%) are more likely than older respondents to say they are LGBT (3.2% 30 to 49 year olds, 2.6% 50 to 64 year olds, 1.9% of those over 65).
LGBT Republicans were found to be a 13% minority in the survey, with 44% supporting the Democrats and 44% saying they are independent.
The survey came with a couple of caveats about self-reporting of sexual orientation and gender identity, suggesting the figure of 3.4% is conservative.
‘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,’ said Gates and Newport.
‘Therefore, it’s likely that some Americans in what is commonly referred to as "the closet" would not be included in the estimates derived from the Gallup interviews. Thus, the 3.4% estimate can best be represented as adult Americans who publicly identify themselves as part of the LGBT community when asked in a survey context.’
The survey was conducted via random-digit-dialling telephone interviews from June to September 2012. Future reports from Gallup will look at the political views and the health of LGBT Americans.
Read the report here.