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1 in 5 Gen Z adults identify as LGBTQ+

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LGBTQ+ identification is up in the United States, and this increase is largely a result of Gen Z and the millennial generation entering adulthood. According to a new poll by Gallup, 7.6% of all American adults now identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or a sexual orientation that is not heterosexual. In 2020, 5.6% of US adults identified as LGBTQ+, and in 2012 it was 3.5%, showing steady growth as the years go on. 

For their 2024 results, Gallup surveyed 12,000 Americans aged 18 and older over the phone. Gallup asked respondents whether they identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or something else. The results showed that 85.6% identified as heterosexual or straight, 7.6% identify with one or more of the LGBTQ+ groups, and 6.8% declined to respond. 

Gen-Zers and millennials were found to be far more likely than older generations to identify as LGBTQ+ and beyond that, each younger generation was found to be about twice as likely as its preceding generation to identify as LGBTQ+. 

More than one in five Gen Z adults (aged 18 to 26) identify as LGBTQ+, and nearly one in 10 millennials (aged 27 to 42) identify as LGBTQ+. The percentages nearly halve with each preceding generation. Gen X has less than 5% of people identifying as LGBTQ+, baby boomers are at 2%, and the Silent Generation is at 1%. 

Overall, women are more likely than men to identify with one or more LGBTQ+ group in the three youngest generations. 28.5% of Gen Z women identify as LGBTQ+, specifically with 20.7% saying they are bisexual. 

As far as reasons why there has been such an explosion in people identifying as LGBTQ+, some experts point to factors like social media, diverse influencers, and the social isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. While people were isolated, social media consumption increased which created a rise in “social influencers” evangelizing to break free from social and cultural conventions surrounding gender and identity. 

Also, a desire to belong to an oppressed identity could be a contributing factor, according to Dr. Erica Anderson, a psychologist who counsels transgender youth through transition and is herself transgender. Speaking to The New York Post, she said, “Great empathy for the oppressed strangely inclines some to identify with marginalized groups.”

Still others see it as a newfound freedom of expression and rejection of rigid categories when it comes to gender, identity, and sexual orientation. 

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