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Oldest Generation Warms to LGBTQ Identification

Slight uptick among those born before 1946, as overall rate among US adults hits 7.2%
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2022 12:21 PM CST
Updated Feb 22, 2023 8:47 AM CST
More US Adults Than Ever Before ID as LGBTQ
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Cristina Moliner)
UPDATE Feb 22, 2023 8:47 AM CST

The percentage of Americans who identify as LGBTQ has increased ever so slightly for a new record high, but has ultimately "leveled off," according to Gallup's 2022 polling of more than 10,000 adults. Some 7.2% of Americans identify as non-heterosexual, for a 0.1% increase since 2021. They predominately identify as bisexual (58.2%), gay (20.2%), and lesbian (13.4%), with 8.8% identifying as transgender, and 5% as other—mostly queer, pansexual, and asexual, per NBC News. There were minor changes in generational percentages (19.7% of Generation Z, 11.2% of millennials, 3.3% of Generation X, and 2.7% of baby boomers) though, notably, the generation born before 1946 saw a nearly 1% increase in LGBTQ identification from 2021, up to 1.7%.

Feb 18, 2022 12:21 PM CST

When Gallup took its first survey to gauge how many Americans identified as LGBTQ back in 2012, just 3.5% of US adults put themselves in the category of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, the options offered then in the poll. In just a decade, that percentage has doubled—it's now a record 7.1% who consider themselves to be anything other than heterosexual, with 57% of LGBTQ Americans identifying as bisexual, reports the Washington Post. The survey, which randomly polled more than 12,000 adults in 2021, also saw a marked increase over 2020's numbers, with 5.6% of US adults identifying as LGBTQ that year.

Driving these results are Generation Z adults—individuals born between 1997 and 2003. In that group, 21% identify as LGBTQ. Jeffrey Jones, a senior editor at Gallup, notes that this trend can be attributed to the fact that it's more culturally acceptable these days than in the past to be a member of the LGBTQ community, and that as members of older generations start to die, they're replaced with a younger demographic that's more tolerant. "[Gen Zers have] really grown up in a culture where being LGBT was normal and not something that people had to be embarrassed about or try and hide," he tells the Post. "Certainly there's still some discrimination, but it's nothing like it's been when the older generations were growing up."

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The poll notes that Gen Zers who haven't yet turned 18 are even likelier than their older Gen Z counterparts to identify as LGBTQ, per NBC News. The numbers, predictably, fall off chronologically in the older generations: 10.5% of millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) see themselves as LGBTQ, while it's 4.2% for Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980), 2.6% for the baby boomers (who showed up between 1946 and 1964), and just 0.8% for Americans born before 1946—aka the "traditionalists." Based on current trends, "the proportion of LGBT Americans should exceed 10% in the near future," Gallup predicts. (More LGBTQ stories.)

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