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Increases in LGB Identification Among US Adults, 2014–2021

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Abstract

Introduction

Accurate population estimates of trends in sexual identity groups are important for understanding cultural change, the range of diversity in sexual orientation, and health disparities rooted in sexual identity.

Methods

Data are from the nationally representative Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS; n = 1.5 million) of US adults from 2014 to 2021.

Results

An increasing number of US adults identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) between 2014 and 2021. LGB identification increased from 3.4% in 2014–2015 to 5.5% in 2020–2021 among all adults and from 7.6% in 2014–2015 to 15.7% in 2020–2021 among young adults ages 18 to 24. The increase in LGB identification appeared in both “blue” liberal states and “red” conservative states, suggesting a nationwide rather than regional shift.

Conclusions

The increase among young adults points to a generational explanation, with more of Gen Z identifying as LGB than millennials at the same age. The increases were largest among bisexual people, women, and White and Hispanic people.

Policy Implications

The increased prevalence of LGB + people has implications across a wide range of domains, including healthcare, housing, and schools. In particular, the sharp increase in bisexual women may require particular attention to address the health disparities they experience across the lifespan.

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Data and material are publicly available online.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

J. M. T. developed the study concept, performed analyses, and wrote portions of the manuscript; B. E. W. reviewed the literature and wrote portions of the manuscript; J. L. performed analyses and offered suggestions for revisions.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jean M. Twenge.

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Competing Interests

J. M. T. receives royalties from books and textbooks. The other authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Twenge, J.M., Wells, B.E. & Le, J. Increases in LGB Identification Among US Adults, 2014–2021. Sex Res Soc Policy (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-023-00874-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-023-00874-4

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