New record as estimated 18m Americans identify as LGBTQ, poll finds | LGBT rights

Polling released Wednesday confirmed that more Americans than ever before identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. The number of Americans who self-identify this way increased by 60% between 2012 and 2020, according to Gallup.

Researchers say the findings are partly due to an emerging generation of young people who have chosen to live openly with an identity other than heterosexual.

“It reflects what we are seeing in society and the way society is changing,” Gallup senior editor Jeff Jones said, later telling NBC News that “younger people are growing up in an environment where being gay, lesbian or bisexual is not as taboo as it was in the past”.

According to the new survey data, a record 5.6% of American adults, an estimated 18 million, identify as LGBTQ, up from 4.5% in the organization’s last polling year in 2017.

Researchers were able to gain more insight from respondents about their precise sexual orientation this year by allowing for more than simple yes or no responses to whether someone identified as LGBTQ, as in past surveys.

Polling determined the group leading the growth in LGBTQ identity are members of Generation Z, or those aged 18 to 23. About one in six, or 15.9%, identify as LGBTQ. Identification gradually declined with each older generation. Just 2% or less of Americans born before 1965 identified as LGBTQ.

Across age groups, researchers found some notable trends, including that more than 70% of respondents who identified as LGBTQ defined themselves as bisexual.

Not only were women far more likely than their male counterparts to identify as LGBTQ overall (6.4 v 4.9%), they were also more likely to consider themselves bisexual across all age groups (4.3 v 1.8%).

Of everyone surveyed who identified as LGBTQ, 54.6 % of respondents identified as bisexual, 24.5% as gay, 11.7% as lesbian and 11.3% as transgender. More than 3% said they used another term to describe their identity, such as queer or pansexual.

Advocates have pinpointed the survey results as a welcome sign of growing support for LGBTQ rights. A June 2020 Gallup report found that 67% of Americans back gay marriage, up from 53% in 2012, when Gallup first started tracking.

“Less than 20 years ago, just being in a same-sex relationship could be a crime. Now, LGBTQ people can marry the person they love, and the supreme court found just last year that it’s not legal to fire someone just for being LGBTQ,” Ineke Mushovic, the executive director of the LGBTQ rights group Movement Advancement Project, told USA Today.

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