At least 20 million people in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+, according to a report released this week from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
The group's report — “We Are Here: Understanding the Size of the LGBTQ+ Community” — found that 8 percent of respondents of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey reported that they identify as “LGBTQ,” and an additional 2 percent said their sexual orientation was not gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight. That number could include those who identify as pansexual, asexual, or as something else.
That survey also suggests that about 2 million people in the country identify as trans, which HRC noted is higher than previous estimates. Out of those identifying as LGBTQ+, bisexual people represented the majority with about 4 percent of respondents.
“LGBTQ+ people are here — in every town, in every city, in each and every ZIP code. This data shows what we’ve suspected: Our community is larger and more widespread than we could have known up to this point, ” said Human Rights Campaign Interim President Joni Madison in a press release. “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.”
Madison added: “I commend the Biden administration and the U.S. Census Bureau for finally allowing researchers to count us and look forward to seeing the LGBTQ+ community counted in further studies.”
California and Texas had the largest number of LGBTQ+ residents with 2.6 million and 1.7 million respectively. The study found that states less populated than those two tended to have a higher percentage of their population identify as LGBTQ+.
Previous attempts to document the size of the LGBTQ+ population in the U.S. have proven difficult. There have been issues in sampling as well as bias that affect respondents’ answers. Prior to the HRC report, the Public Religious Research Institute’s American Values Atlas found 4.4 percent of Americans identified as LGBTQ+. The HRC findings double that number and still may have undercounted the community, according to researchers.
The Census Bureau’s largest surveys do not ask questions about sexual orientation or gender identity. However, data from these surveys help decide where billions of dollars of federal money will go each year. Lacking those questions means money is not going to programs and initiatives supporting LGBTQ+ people.