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1 in 6 Generation Z adults identify as something other than heterosexual

Exploring gender identification
Exploring the intricacies of gender identification 07:16

LGBT identification in the United States has increased over time, according to a new Gallup poll out on Wednesday. In fact, one in six adults in Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2002) identify as something other than heterosexual. 

Nearly 16% of Generation Z adults, who were between the ages of 18 and 23 in 2020, identify as LGBT, according to the poll. And about 72% of those who identify as LGBT say they are bisexual.

That means about 11.5% of all Generation Z adults in the U.S. are bisexual, according to Gallup.

"The vast majority of Generation Z adults who identify as LGBT -- 72% -- say they are bisexual. Thus, 11.5% of all Gen Z adults in the U.S. say they are bisexual, with about 2% each identifying as gay, lesbian or transgender," Gallup says. Gallup

As for the second youngest group of adults – millennials – 9.1% identify as LGBT. This demographic was born between 1981 and 1996. About half of the millennials who identify as LGBTQ are bisexual. 

But for older groups – Generation X (born 1965-1980), baby boomers (born 1946-1964) and traditionalists (born before 1946) – the number of people who identify as LGBTQ decreases, with 2% or less of Americans born before 1965 identifying as LGBT. 

Gallup only asked respondents if they identified as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender), although the LGBT community also encompass other identifications, such as queer. Gallup said 3.3% of respondents did not say they identified as LGBT, but with another non-heterosexual term, such as queer or same-gender-loving. 

The poll, which was based on 15,000 interviews last year with Americans 18 and older, found that 5.6% of U.S. adults identify as LGBT. 

That number is up from Gallup's 2017 poll, which found 4.5% identified as such. However, the 2017 poll only asked participants to answer "yes" or "no" to whether they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The 2020 poll asked more detailed questions such as asking for precise sexual orientation.

Gallup found 86.7% of Americans are heterosexual or straight and 7.6% did not answer the question about their sexual orientation. Respondents could give multiple responses when describing sexual identification so the total exceeds 100%.

Of the 5.6% of adults who identified as LGBT, more than half are bisexual, about a quarter are gay, 11.3% are lesbian and 11.3% are transgender, the 2020 poll found. 

That means 3.1% of Americans identify as bisexual, 1.4% as gay, 0.7% as lesbian and 0.6% as transgender.

"More than half of LGBT adults (54.6%) identify as bisexual. About a quarter (24.5%) say they are gay, with 11.7% identifying as lesbian and 11.3% as transgender. An additional 3.3% volunteer another non-heterosexual preference or term to describe their sexual orientation, such as queer or same-gender-loving," Gallup says. Gallup

Gallup also broke the data down into subcategories, finding women are more likely to identify as LGBT, as are politically liberal people. 

"At a time when Americans are increasingly supportive of equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender people, a growing percentage of Americans identify themselves as LGBT," Gallup says. "With younger generations far more likely than older generations to consider themselves LGBT, that growth should continue."

Gallup says the generational differences in LGBT identification raised questions about whether there is actually a higher amount of LGBT people among younger Americans, "or if it merely reflects a greater willingness of younger people to identify as LGBT."

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