A record 5.6% of Americans identify as LGBT+, Gallup poll finds

by Matthew Lavietes | @mattlavietes | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 25 February 2021 22:07 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: People wave rainbow flags during the 2018 New York City Pride Parade in Manhattan, New York, U.S., June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Image Caption and Rights Information

The Gallup poll found young adults were much more likely to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans

By Matthew Lavietes

NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A record 5.6% of Americans - or 18 million people - are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, a Gallup poll found on Wednesday, attributing a significant increase to greater social acceptance.

The 2020 survey showed a 24% rise from the last poll in 2017, when 4.5% of adults identified as LGBT+. The increase was largely driven by Generation Z adults - aged 18 to 23 - 15.9% of whom said they were LGBT+.

"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," Gallup said in a blog post.

The 2020 U.S. election saw Pete Buttigieg run as an openly gay presidential candidate and LGBT+ candidates scored numerous historic wins, including Sarah McBride as the first openly trans state senator. 

Support for same-sex marriage, legalized in 2015 and largely seen as synonymous with backing for LGBT+ rights, has risen to 62% of Americans, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, compared with 36% in 2007.

The majority of LGBT+ Americans - 54.6% - identify as bisexual, Gallup found, while 24.5% said they were gay men, 11.7% lesbian and 11.3% trans.

The pollsters surveyed a random sample of 15,000 Americans throughout 2020 by telephone and found that 86.7% identified as heterosexual, while 7.6% declined to answer the question, up from about 5% in previous Gallup surveys, which began in 2012.

There were marked differences between the generations. Older people were far less likely to consider themselves LGBT+, with the lowest percentage - 1.3% - among those born before 1946.

Women are more likely to identify as LGBT+ than men, at 6.4% compared with 4.9%, researchers found, while 13% of political liberals said they were LGBT+ versus 2.3% of conservatives.

A similar trend has been witnessed in Britain, where the proportion of people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual increased to 2.2% in 2018 from 1.6% in 2016, according to government data.

Related stories:

With record wins, LGBT+ candidates celebrate 'rainbow wave' in U.S. election

U.S. Georgia run-off elections: What's at stake for LGBT+ rights?

New York City opens billions in contracts to LGBT+ business

(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes @mattlavietes; Editing by Katy Migiro and Hugo Greenhalgh Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.