• Nic F. Anderson

Census Bureau Suggests 20 Million U.S. Adults Identify As LGBTQ+ In New Data Report



According to data from the Census Bureau, at least 20 million adults living in the United States identify somewhere in the LGBTQ+ community with “Millions more could be another identity that is more expansive than these four terms,” according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).


The Census happens every 10 years and is helpful in collecting demographic data (age, gender, sex, race, sexual orientation, etc) on the U.S. population. The Census Bureau’s new national household probability survey, “The Household Pulse Survey,” included LGBTQ+ identities in the questions about demographics. It is the first time in U.S. history which the Census Bureau asked about sexual orientation and gender identity in a survey.


It is important to note that the Household Pulse Survey is separate from the main Census survey and the American Community Survey, which leaves potential gaps in accurate counting of LGBTQ+ individuals.


Approximately 8% of the participants in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse survey reported they identify as LGBTQ+ with an addition 2% of respondents reporting their sexual orientation is something other than lesbian, gay, bisexual, or heterosexual. This is where the Census Bureau found that at least 20 million adults living in the United States identify as LGBTQ. The Household Pulse survey also suggests that more than two million adults in the U.S. identify as transgender and an additional 2% reporting they do not identify as cisgender or transgender.


“LGBTQ+ people exist everywhere in the United States. We are in every state, every zip code and every community. We live in apartments in big cities and in farmhouses in rural communities. We exist across races and ethnicities, incomes and experiences,” the HRC stated in its recent report "We Are Here."


Interim President, Joni Madison, added to this sentiment in a press release: “This data shows what we’ve suspected: our community is larger and more widespread than we could have known up to this point. We’re proud to bring this data to light and set the stage for a future where all the millions of LGBTQ+ people in America enjoy full legal and lived equality.”


Besides the Census, there are other sources that are used to estimate the LGBTQ+ population in the United States and include: PRRI’s American Values Atlas; the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System; NORC’s General Social Survey, Gallup’s Daily Tracker; and the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.


The downfall of surveys like the ones previously mentioned is that researchers use a probability method to survey the population to estimate behaviors, opinions or population size. This means that not every person actually responded. Another issue is that some people who responded to the survey may still be “in the closet” or align themselves with identities that were not asked in the survey.


Madison’s press release reiterated that while this count is a major stride, there is a long way to go before the LGBTQ+ community is accurately accounted for by the Census Bureau.