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Studies reveal how many children are being raised by LGBT people in the US

Studies reveal how many children are being raised by LGBT people in the US

Two new studies conducted by the Williams Institute have thrown light on the size of the LGBT community in the US, as well as the number of people in same-sex marriages and raising children.

The Williams Institute is a respected LGBTI think tank based at UCLA Law School, which is dedicated to carrying out independent research on sexuality, gender identity and public policy in the US.

Authored by scholar Gary J. Yates, the studies, entitled ‘LGBT Demographics: Comparisons among population-based surveys’ and ‘LGB Families and Relationships: Analyses of the 2013 National Health Interview Survey’, drew upon four large, recent, national, population-based surveys. They offer the following key findings.
 

  • Up to 9.5 million individuals in the US, over the age of 18, are LGBT. The figure varied from state to state, between 2.2% and 4% – leading to a figure between 5.2million and 9.5 million nationwide.
  • The figures for those who identified as lesbian or gay remained fairly consistent (around 1.4% and 1.6% respectively) but the proportion of adults who identified as bisexual varied more widely: between 0.6% and 1.6% from state to state.
  • In 2013, there were an estimated 690,000 same-sex couples in the US, of whom approximately 124,000 were married. When analysis was restricted to the second half of 2013, after the Supreme Court’s ruling that brought federal recognition to married same-sex couples, that figure rose to 130,000 married same-sex couples.
  • The number of married same-sex couples in the US has increased by an estimated 50% in the last three years, with married couples living in every region of the country.
  • An estimated 4 in 10 LGB adults (40%) reported either being married or in a cohabiting relationship with a partner compared to 6 in 10 non-LGB adults (60%). This figure was higher for lesbians (51%) compared to gay men (35%).
  • Same-sex couples were raising an estimated 200,000 children under age 18, of whom 30,000 are being raised by married same-sex parents. LGBT individuals who are not part of a couple are raising between 1.2 and 2 million children – a wide variable due to the range in estimates of adults who identify as LGBT.


Trying to establish how many people are in same-sex partnerships has traditionally proved difficult. The US Census Bureau recently released its own figures, suggesting that there are 252,000 married same-sex couples in the US. However, at the same time, it admitted that such a figure could be deeply flawed because up to half of those couples whose survey forms say they are same-sex spouses could actually be opposite-sex spouses. This is because it is not uncommon for people to tick the wrong sex box on the questionnaire.

‘Courts, legislatures, and voters continue to debate high profile policy issues including marriage and parenting rights for same-sex couples along with economic and health disparities associated with discrimination and stigma toward LGBT individuals,’ said Gates of his findings.

‘The availability of new data sources that include identification of LGBT respondents allows us to better inform those debates with critical information about the demographic characteristics of LGBT individuals and their families.’

The full ‘LGBT Demographics: Comparisons among population-based surveys’ report can be viewed here.

The full ‘LGB Families and Relationships: Analyses of the 2013 National Health Interview Survey’ can be read here.