Gallup: Only 3.4% Identify as LGBT; Higher % Among Young, Less Educated, Lower Incomes

By Susan Jones | October 18, 2012 | 6:10 AM EDT

"Dykes on Bikes" kicks off San Francisco's 42nd annual gay pride parade on Sunday, June 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

( - In what Gallup bills as a "special report" based on more than 120,000 interviews, the pollster found that 3.4 percent of U.S. adults said "yes" when asked if they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

"These results are based on responses to the question, 'Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?' included in 121,290 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2012," Gallup explained.

The pollster called it the largest single study of the U.S. LGBT population on record.

Gallup says that measuring sexual orientation and gender identity can be challenging because of “complex social and cultural patterns” – and “social stigma,” which may prevent some LGBT Americans from being candid with pollsters.

Other findings:

-- Nonwhites are more likely than whites to identify as LGBT. Breaking it down by race, Gallup said 4.6 percent of African Americans, 4.3 percent of Asians, 4.0 percent of Hispanics, and 3.2 percent of whites identified as LGBT.

-- Women (3.6 percent) are more likely than men (3.3 percent) to identify as LGBT: The finding is consistent with other surveys, Gallup said. Put another way, more than 53 percent of LGBT individuals are women.

-- Younger Americans are more likely to identify as LGBT: Adults ages 18-29 (6.4 percent) were more than three times as likely as seniors ages 65 and older (1.9 percent) to identify as LGBT. Gallup found that LGBT identity declines with age -- at 3.2 percent for ages 30-49; and 2.6 percent for ages 50-64.

-- Younger women are more likely to identify as LGBT than are younger men. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 8.3 percent of women identify as LGBT, compared with 4.6 percent of men the same age. (Gallup admits the possibility that older Americans may be more reluctant to identify themselves as LGBT, while younger Americans are "more accepting of equal rights and opportunities for gay men and lesbians.")

-- LGBT Americans tend to have lower levels of education and income: Gallup found that among those with a high school education or less, 3.5 percent identify as LGBT, compared with 2.8 percent of those with a college degree and 3.2 percent of those with postgraduate education. LGBT identification is highest (4.0 percent) among those with some college education but not a college degree.

Looking at income, more than 5 percent of those with annual incomes under $24,000 identify as LGBT, a higher proportion than among those with higher incomes -- including 2.8 percent of those making $60,000 a year or more.

-- Those in domestic partnerships, or never-married singles more likely to be LGBT: Nearly 13 percent of individuals in a domestic partnership or living with a partner identify as LGBT; 7 percent of single, never-married individuals identify as LGBT; and only 1.3 percent of  LGBT individuals are currently married.

-- LGBT women as likely as non-LGBT women to be raising children: Among women with children, 3.6 percent identify as LGBT. But among men with children, 1.8 percent identify as LGBT.

-- East and West regions have more people who identify as LGBT: LGBT identification is slightly higher in the East (3.7 percent) and the West (3.6 percent) than in the Midwest (3.4 percent) and the South (3.2 percent).

Gallup says its special report will be followed by others analyzing LGBT political attitudes and perspectives, as well as the impact of self-reported LGBT identity on health and well-being.

The poll results are based on landline and cellular telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup Daily tracking survey June 1-Sept. 30, 2012, with a random sample of 121,290 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, who were selected using random-digit-dial sampling.