From left, some of the out officials who have taken office this year: Alex Ruggiers, member of the Norman, Okla., Board of Education; Keturah Herron, Kentucky state representative, and Jolanda Jones, Texas state representative. Photos courtesy LGBTQ Victory Fund/Victory Institute
The number of out elected officials in the U.S. has risen 5.8 percent in the past year and more than doubled in the past five, according to a new report from the LGBTQ Victory Institute.
There are at least 1,043 out LGBTQ+ people in elected office around the nation, notes the report, “Out for America 2022,” issued Thursday. This year the number exceeded 1,000 for the first time, and the group is diverse in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Among the indicators of growing diversity: The number of LGBTQ+ elected officials of color increased by 12.3 percent since 2021, compared to just 1.3 percent for white LGBTQ+ elected officials. Noncisgender elected officials have increased more than tenfold in last five years, from six in 2017 to 77 in 2022. Trans elected officials grew by almost 10 percent this year.
Having representation is more important than ever, noted Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Institute and Victory Fund (the former provides training and leadership development for politicians, while the latter works to elect out LGBTQ+ people to office).
“With a historic number of anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced this year, unprecedented attacks against trans kids and ongoing efforts to censor classrooms and libraries across the country, LGBTQ elected officials are on the front lines of defending our rights and freedoms,” Parker said in a press release. “They have demonstrated true grit and selflessness in the face of wave after wave of bigotry. Despite the fact the LGBTQ community has never had equitable representation in government — and we still have a long way to go — there are clear signs of progress. They represent the strength and diversity of not only who we are as a society now, but also the America we aspire to build for future generations.”
To achieve equitable representation, 35,854 more out candidates would have to be elected to office, according to the report. While LGBTQ+ people make up 7.1 percent of the U.S. population, they represent just 0.2 percent of elected officials. The additional representation is needed at all levels of government — local, state, and federal.
LGBTQ+ elected officials are significantly more racially and ethnically diverse than the overall elected official population but less diverse than the U.S. population as a whole. Still, there were increases over the past year in Black, Native American/Alaska Native, Asian American, and Latinx officials. There were also increases in nonbinary, genderqueer, bisexual, and pansexual officials.
Three-fourths of out elected officials are Democrats, and just 3 percent are Republicans, with the rest being independent or nonpartisan.
Read the full report here.