The proportion of American adults who identify as LGBTQ+ has reached 7.1% in the United States, a number that has doubled since 2012 and signals a generational shift, according to the Gallup research institute that released this data on Thursday, Feb. 17.
Of the 12,000 people surveyed by phone in 2021, 86.3% said they were heterosexual, 7.1% LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and others), and 6.6% did not answer. This survey was first conducted in 2012, and the percentage of people identifying as LGBTQ+ was 3.5% at the time. Since then it has steadily increased.
LGBTQ+ people are proportionately more numerous among younger generations, especially among Generation Z, which includes those born from 1997 to the early 2010s.
For example, 20.8%, or 1 in 5, of Gen Z adults were identified as LGBTQ+ (only those born up to 2003 were adults at the time of the survey). This is double the 10.5% of millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) who identify as LGBTQ+. And the proportion dropped to 4.2% for Generation X (1965-1980), 2.6% for Baby Boomers (1946-1964), and 0.8% for those born before 1946.
An emerging trend among young adults of Gen Z
Since 2012, the proportion of LGBTQ+ people among baby boomers or Gen Xers has remained flat, with only a slight increase among millennials. On the other hand, the proportion of LGBTQ+ adults in Generation Z has doubled since 2017 (when only members born between 1997 and 1999 were adults), showing an upward trend within this generation itself.
“If this trend continues among Gen Z, the proportion of American adults identifying as LGBT will continue to grow once all members of this generation reach adulthood.”said Gallup.
For the first time, the institute also noted the proportion of LGBTQ+ people who identified with each category. More than half of LGBT Americans (57%) identified themselves as bisexual, or 4% of the entire adult population. Then 21% of LGBTQ+ people said they were gay, 14% lesbian, 10% transgender, and 4% “something other than heterosexual” as queer.
This generational shift is happening in a context of growing tolerance: “Americans are increasingly accepting gay, lesbian or transgender people” and LGBTQ+ people are now “more protected,” Gallup points out.