36,000 adults in Southwest Florida identify as LGBT

The first study to look at the demographic, socioeconomic, and health characteristics of the region’s LGBT population.

An estimated 36,000 adults in Southwest Florida, 3.4% of the population, identify as LGBT, according to a new regional analysis by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Almost a third (31%) are Latino/a and 17% of LGBT adults age 25 and older are raising children.

Researchers analyzed data from the Gallup Daily Tracking Survey to create a comprehensive look at the demographics and socioeconomic status of LGBT adults in five counties: Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades, and Hendry. Findings show that LGBT adults are similar in many ways to their heterosexual, cisgender peers. Both populations have similar levels of poverty and food insecurity, rates of military service and health insurance coverage. However, there are notable differences as well. LGBT adults in the region are more likely to report depression, high cholesterol, and current smoking.

“Research shows that poor mental health, including depression and smoking, have been associated with increased exposure to specific stressors, such as discrimination and violence,” said lead author Kerith J. Conron, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “To further understand the LGBT population in Southwest Florida we need better data on the impact of stigma on LGBT individuals.”


  • One in five (21%) LGBT adults are 18-24 years old, compared to 9% of non-LGBT adults.
  • Half (52%) of LGBT adults are single and have never been married, compared to 20% of non-LGBT adults.
  • Almost a third (31%) of LGBT adults are Latino/a, compared to 19% of non-LGBT adults.
  • Overall, LGBT adults age 25 and older are less likely to be raising children. However, parenting rates are similar for LGBT and non-LGBT people in two populations: women and Latino/a adults.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of LGBT adults are in the labor force, compared to 55% of non-LGBT adults.
  • 35% of LGBT adults are poor or near poor, which is a similar rate to non-LGBT adults.
  • Nearly one in five (20%) LGBT adults did not have enough money to buy food they needed in the past year.

“This report outlines ways to ensure the health and wellbeing of Southwest Florida’s diverse LGBT community, including evaluating access to poverty-reduction and other support services as well as culturally competent health care,” said Sarah Owen, President and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, which funded the study. “As funders, we want to better understand our entire community and this report provides important insights on how we can all work together to improve the quality of life for everyone in our region.”

Read the report

October 4, 2019

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