LGBT Demographics: Comparisons among population-based surveys

By Gary J. Gates
September 2014

This report uses four large, national, population-based surveys to consider the ways in which LGBT populations are demographically similar to or distinct from their non-LGBT counterparts in the United States. Comparisons of demographic characteristics are made among the surveys and, when possible, among sexual orientation identities to consider differences between those who identify as lesbian or gay and those who identify as bisexual (none of the surveys allow for separate identification of transgender individuals). Estimates of the percent of adults who identified as LGB or LGBT varied across surveys from between 2.2% and 4.0%, implying that between 5.2 million and 9.5 million individuals aged 18 and older are LGBT.  Despite this variation in prevalence estimates, the analyzed surveys show many demographic similarities among respondents who choose to identify as LGB or LGBT.  LGBT identity was more common among younger populations. LGBT populations generally shared the racial and ethnic characteristics of non-LGBT individuals.  Adults were more likely to identify as LGBT in the Northeast and West than in the South and Midwest.

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Click here for the press release.