POLL: LGBT Americans Poorer, Less Educated Than Straight Americans

According to what Gallup calls the largest single study of the American LGBT population on record, 3.4% of Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Gallup conducted 121,290 phone interviews between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2012, asking the question, “Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?”

3.4% responded yes while 4.4% either refused to respond or “didn’t know.”

Though consistent with a previous estimate, Gallup concedes that the numbers don’t reflect the actual number of LGBT people in America, simply the number willing to identify as such:

Measuring sexual orientation and gender identity can be challenging since these concepts involve complex social and cultural patterns. As a group still subject to social stigma, many of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender may not be forthcoming about this identity when asked about it in a survey. Therefore, it’s likely that some Americans in what is commonly referred to as “the closet” would not be included in the estimates derived from the Gallup interviews.

The poll also found that when it comes to identifying as LGBT,  non-white people are more likely than white people and women are more likely than men.; Americans aged 18-29 are three times more likely to identify as LGBT than senior citizens; and contrary to a “more limited” study by the Williams Institute, “identification as LGBT is highest among Americans with the lowest levels of education”:

Among those with a high school education or less, 3.5% identify as LGBT, compared with 2.8% of those with a college degree and 3.2% of those with postgraduate education. LGBT identification is highest among those with some college education but not a college degree, at 4.0%.

The same is purportedly true when it comes to economics:

More than 5% of those with incomes of less than $24,000 a year identify as LGBT, a higher proportion than among those with higher incomes – including 2.8% of those making $60,000 a year or more…about 16% of LGBT-identified individuals have incomes above $90,000 per year, compared with 21% of the overall adult population. Additionally, 35% of those who identify as LGBT report incomes of less than $24,000 a year, significantly higher than the 24% for the population in general.

Those numbers are consistent with a previous report that LGBT Americans are at a higher risk for poverty. You can read the full Gallup report here.

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  • Perry

    This is probably because they utilized a very small sample. I am gay and have a PHD and a and a fairly good income.

  • 2eo

    Phone interviews. Conducted during the day, when most people are at work.

    Then they drew conclusions, and these thick fucks have the gall to talk about education.

  • stadacona

    This confirms it. Less than 2% are gay with another 1-2% bisexual (but eventually ending up with the opposite sex). A tiny minority indeed – nowhere near the 10% the extremists claim.

  • marc sfe

    @stadacona: so, what’s your point? Phone interview, random sampling and some people are going to lie when asked. Sorry, fail there whoever you are. So you’re saying Alfred Kinsey was an extremist? If you don’t know who he is, I suggest you look up Mr Kinsey and his work at IU.

  • fagburn

    Odd slant you’ve given this in your headline, Queerty.
    Why not ‘Rich gay men more likely to be in the closet’?

  • the other Greg

    @fagburn: ‘Rich gay men more likely to be in the closet’

    LOL! (for 5 minutes!)… You mean like Stadacona?

  • stadacona

    Kinsey’s numbers were inflated since he conducted interviews in gay bars and in liberal college enclaves. We should all be openly gay. I just don’t like when people use false stats to push an agenda.

  • 2eo

    I just conducted a phone poll and 100% of the 9 billion people I asked thought stadacona was a twat, especially stadacona who stressed that those kids were asking for it with their school clothes.

  • MK Ultra

    The truth is that we gays are everywhere. Despite the hate, torture, killing, abuse, neglect, threats towards and against our people, we continue to tnrive. Even 10% always sounded low to me as i’ve met many people that blur the lines.

  • Taliaferro

    I am a gay male with a masters plus 30 hours, worked for many years as a high school teacher, taught theater, did costume design in the summers, and knew many gay and lesbian people – all educated and all better off financially than a school teacher. How were the questions in this survey skewed?

  • mlbumiller


    my last three places of employment:

    Marine Det Embedded Training Team 2/2 Afghanistan(2005)18 members 2 identified as GB that is 11%

    Naval Hospital Iceland (2004): 132 staff memebers (active duty and civilian) and I recall 10 that identified as GLB thats 7.6%

    Last department I worked in at Naval Hospital Sand Diego (2003): 35 staff members 7 identified as GLBT(active duty and civilian), thats 20%

    Current department at UC San Diego Heath System (2012): 25 staff memebers, 3 Identifiy as themselves as GLB, thats 12%

    These ppl are the ones i knew about, not those that are still closeted.

  • Badger88


    The results indicated that 3.4 percent answered yes, while 4.4 percent either refused to answer or “didn’t know” the answer. Please tell me what completely straight person would give either of those answers? If you know you’re straight, you answer “no” and be done with it. After all, there’s no stigma that comes from telling a stranger you’re straight; that’s considered “normal” by society. But there is a stigma from giving an ambiguous answer and raising questions.

    So I’d say there’s a pretty good chance that almost all of that 4.4 percent are indeed LGBT, even if they are still closeted. And simple arithmetic of those two percentages would put the actual number of LGBT people somewhere near 8 percent. And that doesn’t even include the people so deep in the closet that they convince themselves that they’re straight.

  • FStratford

    So what if we as a group make less money?

    We also have lower expenses

    Ans that is why we have higher disposable income.

  • RLS

    It’s funny that when surveys don’t have the desired outcome everyone wants to question the survey.

    I was a dual major in sociology in undergrad, and in my research study after study after study proves the same thing: that unfortunately LGBTs are poorer than straight Americans. A lot of that has to do with discrimination, lack of access, etc.

    The stereotype of the rich, urban gay (man) with tons of disposable income is just that, a stereotype created by companies who wanted to sell shit to gays once we became a desirable marketing demographic and perpetuated by the rich, urban gays who actually exist on the coasts and control media.

    I get the reasoning behind it, better a positive stereotype than a negative one, but ultimately it’s just not true. Unfortunately it’s fairly pervasive at this point and the pressure to live up to it will contribute to the very reasons (credit card debt, keeping up with the joneses, $250 jeans and $3,000 Atlantis cruises) we don’t have more money.

    I mean, what is “disposable income” anyway? Suze Orman would have a field day with us.

  • James from chicago

    @RLS: I think for the most part gays do have more money.Most of the time there are on kids so that leave alot money to spend.

  • viveutvivas

    I think it is good to be reminded that a significant number of gay people are not upper middle class white gay men. Unfortunately gay politics and gay identity politics in the U.S. has become mostly about the concerns and heteronormative aspirations of upper middle class white gay men, while the important concerns of the rest of us have been put on the back burner.

  • viveutvivas

    By the way, I find it kind of ugly that some posters seem insulted by the implication that gays are poorer or less educated on average. Maybe you guys need to be reminded that it is not a moral failing to be poor or less highly educated, and it does not make someone a bad person. Cnversely, if you are highly educated or richer than someone else, that does not mean that you are a better person. Not by a long shot.

  • nc18

    I’m a political science PhD student who studies survey methodology.

    1) Considering that “yes” responses decline with age while “no answer/refuse to reply” responses increase among older age groups, it’s safe to say that a substantial proportion of elderly LGBT folks are not answering the survey accurately for obvious reasons of perceived social sanctioning. This problem applies to all age groups, but more so to older generations simply because they were raised to have different attitudes towards the LGBT community (ie 1950s assumptions of pedophilia versus increasing acceptance/affirmation through the 1990s and 2000s). These are called cohort effects. The user stadacona is a moron to believe that responses to this question over the phone are 100% accurate portrayals of the “true percentage.” However, because these cohort effects exist, we can safely assume that the “true percentage” of LGBT people in America is greater than 3.4%, and probably at least 6.4% (reflecting the 18-29 demographic’s response), though probably not as high as 10%. This conclusion is based on the (reasonable) assumptions that (1) people who answer “yes” are not saying yes falsely, and (2) that people don’t “age out” of being LGBT during their adulthood… which is an absurd notion that’s been debunked by most psychological studies.

    2) The conclusion that LGBT people are more likely to be poor and uneducated is an artifact of response rates among these different age demographics (which don’t appear to be accounted for in those raw statistics). Thus it’s not that LGBT people are less educated or poor because they’re LGBT, but rather LGBT people are less educated and poor because young people are less educated and poor than older people, and young people were more likely to respond “yes” to the survey question.

  • nc18

    ^ I forgot to add that another reason why you see the stark discrepancy in responses of 18-29 versus 30-49 (and other groups) is likely due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Not because LGBT deaths from AIDS were numerous enough to impact these data, but rather because of the resurgence of LGBT stigma associated with it during the 1980s. You’ll note that 30-49 year olds (ie the generation who were teenagers and young adults during the 1980s) had the highest response rates of “no” among all age demographics; this is likely a statistically significant difference given the sample size of 120,000. Conclusion: many of those “no’s” are almost certainly closet cases :D

  • schlukitz

    And the point of this poll is…

  • Dumdum

    @stadacona: OH MY GODDESS!!! YOU are Gay??? HOLY CRAP!!! The end is [email protected]nc18: That was freaking amazing. Did you know that there have been 601,415 deaths from AIDS in the U.S. ? I wonder what percentage of those were Gay? I have had HIV since 1984 and everyone I knew from that era is dead.

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