Poll Challenges U.S. Perceptions Of LGBTs


PRINCETON, N.J., (UPI) —  Some 3.4 percent of Americans say they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered, the largest survey of U.S. sexual identity ever done indicates.

Findings in the survey of 120,000 people conflicts with media stereotypes about the LGBT community as predominantly white, highly educated and very wealthy, polling organization Gallup said in releasing the poll Thursday.

The report is “the first step in analyzing the largest population-based survey of LGBT Americans ever conducted,” said Gary J. Gates, a professor at the UCLA School of Law and the author of the report.

“In particular, the findings challenge both media and cultural stereotypes to reveal that the LGBT population is in a number of ways not that different from the broader U.S. population,” Gates said.

Non-white individuals were more likely to identify themselves as LGBT, Gallup found. A third, 33 percent, of those polled who said they were LGBT were non-white while 27 percent of those who said they were heterosexual were non-white.

More than 53 percent of LGBT individuals are women, Gallup found, and younger people were more likely to identify themselves as belonging to one of the four categories. Some 6.4 percent of people 18 to 29 years of age said they were LGBT while the lowest percentage, 1.9 percent, were 65 or older.

LGBT Americans also tend to have lower levels of education and income, the survey reported. Some 4 percent of LGBT individuals said they had some college education but no degree, while 3.5 percent said they had a high school education or less.

About 16 percent of LGBT-identified individuals made more than $90,000 a year, compared to 21 percent of the overall population, the survey said. Some 35 percent of LGBT individuals said they made less than $24,000 a year, much higher than the 24 percent of the general population.

The survey also found:

— Nearly 59 percent of LGBT individuals said their standard of living was improving, compared to 49 percent of non-LGBT men and women

— LGBT women were just as likely as non-LGBT women to be raising children.

— People in domestic partnerships or who have never been married were more likely to be LGBT. Some 48 percent said they had never been married and 18 percent were in a domestic partnership or living with a partner. Some 20 percent of LGBT individuals indicated they were married. By comparison, among non-LGBT individuals 54 percent are married, 4 percent are living with a partner and 23 percent have never been married.

As issues such as same-sex marriage, gender identity and sex discrimination in the workplace are debated in the United States, Gates said data from the survey offered “an unprecedented resource for informing those debates with facts rather than stereotype or anecdote.”

Gallup said the LGBT question would continue to be included in its daily tracking survey.

Margin of error for the poll was estimated at 1 percent.

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