A new survey estimates that 3.4 percent of U.S. adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, in what may be the largest study ever aimed at calculating the nation's LGBT population.
The Gallup survey was based on interviews with more than 121,000 people.
"Contemporary media often think of LGBT people as disproportionately white, male, urban and pretty wealthy," said the report's lead author, demographer Gary Gates of the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute. "But this data reveal that relative to the general population, the LGBT population has a larger proportion of nonwhite people and clearly is not overly wealthy."
According to the survey, which was conducted between June and September, 4.6 percent of African-Americans identify as LGBT, along with 4 percent of Hispanics, 4.3 percent of Asians and 3.2 percent of whites.
Overall, a third of those identifying as LGBT are nonwhite, the report said.
There was a slight gender difference – 3.6 percent of women identified as LGBT, compared to 3.3 percent of men. And younger adults, aged 18 to 29, were more likely than their elders to identify as LGBT.
One striking difference: Among those 18 to 29, 8.3 percent of women identify as LGBT, compared with 4.6 percent of men the same age.
The survey also asked about political preferences. It found that 44 percent of the LGBT adults identified as Democratic, 43 percent as independent and 13 percent as Republican. The survey found 71 percent of LGBT registered voters supporting President Barack Obama in this year's election, and 22 percent supporting Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
In contrast to some previous, smaller studies, the Gallup survey found that identification as LGBT is highest among Americans with the lowest levels of education. Among those with a high school education or less, 3.5 percent identify as LGBT, compared with 2.8 percent of those with a college degree and 3.2 percent of those with postgraduate education.
A similar pattern was found regarding income groups. More than 5 percent of those with annual incomes of less than $24,000 identify as LGBT, compared to 2.8 percent of those making more than $60,000 a year.
Among those who report income, about 16 percent of LGBT individuals have incomes above $90,000 per year, compared with 21 percent of the overall adult population, the Gallup survey found. It said 35 percent of those who identify as LGBT report incomes of less than $24,000 a year, compared to 24 percent for the population in general.
Regarding family status, 20 percent of LGBT individuals said they are married and an additional 18 percent are living with a partner; they weren't asked about the gender of those spouses and partners. Among non-LGBT Americans, 54 percent are married and 4 percent are living with a partner, the report said.
The survey found that 32 percent of both LGBT and non-LGBT women have children under 18 in their home. By contrast, 16 percent of LGBT men had children in their home, compared to 31 percent of non-LGBT men.
The results were based on responses to the question, "Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?" included in 121,290 Gallup interviews conducted between June 1 and Sept. 30. The survey has a margin of sampling error of less than 1 percentage point.
The survey noted that its findings did not account for LGBT people who, for whatever reason, did not want to acknowledge their sexual orientation in the interviews.
On the Web…
The poll: http://bit.ly/Rb0PAX