A record 5.6% of Americans – or 18 million people – are LGBT, a Gallup poll found on Wednesday, attributing a significant increase to greater social acceptance.
The 2020 survey showed a 24% rise from the last poll in 2017, when 4.5% of adults identified as LGBT+. The increase was largely driven by Generation Z adults – aged 18 to 23 – 15.9% of whom said they were LGBT+.
“At a time when Americans are increasingly supportive of equal rights for LGBT people, a growing percentage of Americans identify themselves as LGBT,” Gallup said in a blog post.
The 2020 US election saw Pete Buttigieg run as the first openly gay presidential candidate, and LGBT+ candidates scored numerous historic wins, including Sarah McBride as the first openly trans state senator.
Support for same-sex marriage, legalised in 2015, and largely seen as synonymous with backing for LGBT+ rights, has risen to 62% of Americans, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, compared with 36% in 2007.
The majority of LGBT+ Americans – 54.6% – identify as bisexual, Gallup found, while 24.5% said they were gay men, 11.7% lesbian and 11.3% trans.
The pollsters surveyed a random sample of 15,000 Americans throughout 2020 by telephone, and found that 86.7% identified as heterosexual, while 7.6% declined to answer the question, up from about 5% in previous Gallup surveys, which began in 2012.
There were marked differences between the generations. Older people were far less likely to consider themselves LGBT+, with the lowest percentage – 1.3% – among those born before 1946.
Women are more likely to identify as LGBT+ than men, at 6.4% compared with 4.9%, researchers found, while 13% of political liberals said they were LGBT+ versus 2.3% of conservatives.
A similar trend has been witnessed in Britain, where the proportion of people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual increased to 2.2% in 2018, from 1.6% in 2016, according to government data.
-Matthew Lavietes @mattlavietes – Thomson Reuters Foundation