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How many Americans identify as LGBT? It’s a record 5.6% of US adults with ‘Generation Z’ driving growth: Poll

Women far more likely than men to consider themselves as LGBT
A majority of LGBT Americans say they are bisexual (Getty Images)
A majority of LGBT Americans say they are bisexual (Getty Images)

A ‘record’ number of people in the US identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), which is an estimated 18 million American adults. This marks a 4.5% increase compared to the previous poll conducted by Gallup. 

The research team emphasizes that at 15.9% or one in six adults, Generation Z (people aged 18 to 23 in 2020) is leading the growth in LGBT identity. Identification gradually declines with each older generation. Only 2% or less of Americans born before 1965 describe themselves as LGBT. 


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According to the authors, one of the main reasons LGBT identification has been increasing over time is that younger generations are much more likely to consider themselves to be something other than heterosexual. 

(Gallup, 2020)

Experts believe that the upward trajectory will continue. “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. With younger generations far more likely than older generations to consider themselves LGBT, that growth should continue,” they explain. 

(Gallup, 2020)

The researchers, however, note: “The pronounced generational differences raise questions about whether higher LGBT identification in younger than older Americans reflects a true shift in sexual orientation, or if it merely reflects a greater willingness of younger people to identify as LGBT. To the extent it reflects older Americans not wanting to acknowledge an LGBT orientation, the Gallup estimates may underestimate the actual population prevalence of it.”

Results for the latest Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted in 2020 with a random sample of 15,349 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The authors were able to gain more insight from respondents about their precise sexual orientation this time instead of a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response to whether someone identified as LGBT as in previous surveys.

Only 2% or less of Americans born before 1965 describe themselves as LGBT (Getty Images) 

Among those surveyed, 86.7% of US adults say they are heterosexual or straight, and 7.6% did not answer the question about their sexual orientation. Gallup’s 2012-2017 data had about 5% “no opinion” responses.

A majority of LGBT Americans say they are bisexual. Here too, Generation Z leads the way: 72% who identify as LGBT say they are bisexual. Overall, an estimated 54.6% identify as bisexual, while 24.5% say they are gay, with 11.7% identifying as lesbian and 11.3% as transgender. Another 3.3% used another term to describe their identity such as queer or same-gender-loving. 

(Gallup, 2020)

“Respondents can give multiple responses when describing their sexual identification; thus, the totals exceed 100%. Rebasing these percentages to represent their share of the U.S. adult population finds 3.1% of Americans identifying as bisexual, 1.4% as gay, 0.7% as lesbian, and 0.6% as transgender,” says the study.

Notable differences were also found among genders, with women (6.4) far more likely than men (4.9%) to identify as LGBT. At 4.3%, women are also more likely to identify as bisexual; 1.3% consider themselves as lesbian and 1.3% as something else. Among men, 2.5% describe themselves as gay, 1.8% as bisexual, and 0.6% as something else.

There are political differences, with 13% of liberals, 4.4% of moderates, and 2.3% of conservatives considering themselves as LGBT. The divide is not as significant among party lines, with 8.8% of Democrats, 6.5% of independents, and 1.7% of Republicans identifying as LGBT. There also appears to be no meaningful divide in terms of education: 5.6% of college graduates and 5.7% of college non-graduates say they are LGBT.