July 15, 2014 at 4:05 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Less than 3 percent of U.S. identifies as LGB: report
The U.S. Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Gay News, Washington Blade, report

A new report from HHS finds that fewer than three percent of people identify as LGB. (Image public domain)

A new report from the Department of Health & Human Services has found that less than three percent of the U.S. population publicly identifies as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

The report from the Centers for Disease Control, which was made public on Tuesday, found that 1.6 percent of Americans identify as gay or lesbian and 0.7 percent identify as bisexual. Those numbers mean 2.3 percent of the population identifies as LGB.

Meanwhile, 96.6 percent of the population identify as straight and the remaining 1.1 percent identify as “something else” or stated “I don’t know the answer.” No data was collected on identification based on gender identity or transgender status.

The information was based on data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey, which for the first time in its 57-year history last year included questions related to sexual orientation.

According to the report, the addition of survey questions related to sexual orientation should help meet the Healthy People 2020 goals identified by HHS in addition to health objectives related to LGBT people.

“NHIS includes a wide range of survey questions on health, the addition of questions on sexual orientation will facilitate many opportunities for future researchers to examine health among sexual minority populations using a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults,” the report states.

Using the information, the report makes some comparisons between the LGB and the straight population. For example, a higher percentage of women 18–64 who identify as bisexual had experienced serious psychological distress compared to straight women. Moreover, among men 18–64, a higher percentage of those who identify as gay or bisexual have received tests for HIV compared with those who identify as straight.

The report also finds that alcohol and cigarette consumption is higher among people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual than it is for straight people. Among the findings: 33 percent of gay and lesbian people consumed five or more alcoholic beverages in a single day, compared to 22.3 percent of straight people and 39.5 percent of bisexual people.

Among men, the report also found a higher percentage met federal guidelines for aerobic physical activity. Among gay men, 63.5 percent of respondents met that standard as opposed to 53.7 percent of straight men and 53.3 percent of bisexual men.

A spokesperson at HHS deferred questions on the report to CDC, which didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

The percentage of those who identify as gay in the report is smaller than the commonly held belief that 10 percent of all people are gay, but the report’s findings are along the lines of a 2011 study from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. That report found that 1.7 percent of the population identifies as gay or lesbian and 1.8 percent of the population identifies as bisexual. An estimated 700,000 transgender people live in the United States, the report found.

Gary Gates, a distinguished scholar at the Williams Institute, said the new CDC report is a “milestone” for its inclusion of sexual orientation questions and is on par with the result of existing surveys.

“Without question, these data will provide an important resource to help us to better understand the health needs of LGB Americans and identify possible health disparities associated with sexual orientation,” Gates said.

The report was the result of an announcement from former Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in 2011 that her department would begin collecting LGBT data as part of federal health surveys. At the time, Sebelius predicted that questions on sexual orientation would begin in 2013, but made no similar forecast for questions based on gender identity, saying more time was needed to consider the appropriate questions for that category.

The transgender director of the Network for LGBT Health Equity at CenterLink, who goes by the moniker Scout, said it’s time for federal health surveys to include questions on gender identity.

“It’s frustrating that sexual identity data collection is taking off while gender identity is still stalled,” Scout said. “These new data will unleash a wave of articles and research projects and health interventions — all for LGB people, not T. We wouldn’t stand for this exclusion on ENDA, I’m not sure why we’re tolerating it for our health. The feds admit they aren’t even testing T measures, why aren’t we demanding this be fixed?”

The Williams Institute’s Gates also shared the view that gender identity questions should be included in the federal health surveys.

“Full LGBT inclusion in these data will not come until the survey also includes a measurement of gender identity,” Gates said. “I encourage HHS to prioritize the development of a gender identity measure for inclusion on the NHIS in future surveys.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • I just don;t believe everyone who is gay that is asked that question is going to say so. I am not sure I would and I am pretty out.

  • Some of us aren’t comfortable being honest about our sexuality for phone surveys. I don’t really like the government knowing my sexuality despite all the GLBT gains let alone keeping it in a database. To me there is a time and a place to be out but I don’t need people I don’t know being aware of my business.

    I was given a city health survey last year, and when asked what my sexuality was, I said I didn’t want to answer. Why should they know my sexuality when I don’t even know who I’m talking to on the phone?

  • I too have avoided the question in telephone surveys. Living in a southern state, I cling to caution. I’m out to friends and family, but one never knows the creditability of those calling. I live close to the American Family Association who is known for devious tactics of outing people. And it’s also a state, like many others, where one can be fired from their job if they are gay. So, yes, the survey can’t possibly be a true count.

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  • “Without question, these data will provide an important resource to help us to better understand the health needs of LGB Americans and identify possible health disparities associated with sexual orientation,” Gates said.
    ‘Just trust us. Your government knows what’s best for you. We’re Democrats after all.’
    I respectfully call a BULLPUCKY ALERT! on Obama’s HHS and Williams.
    Most LGBT folks will rightfully lie as they wisely ought not yet trust any Obama Administration telephone survey demanding to know their sexual orientation. LGBT honesty and a federal breach of such ‘private’ information could hurt many respondents.
    It remains a disgraceful fact that President Obama has not even stopped workplace anti-LGBT discrimination and firings funded by federal contractor dollars– over which the Prez is titular CEO. His WH Press Secretary has been dodging questions for weeks about a rumored Obama religious exemption loophole for his twice-promised federal ENDA EO.
    That ENDA EO loophole– urged by and for anti-LGBT bigots posing themselves as devotees of Pelosi’s ‘conscience-clause’– seeks to dilute to waste water Obama’s twice-promised federal ENDA EO.
    C’mon! Seriously? 
    LGBTs are suppose to trust a phone call from the same Obama Administration that can’t flatly deny such ENDA loophole hypocrisy? We should trust a HHS telephone survey-taker with information that could adversely affect our LGBT loved ones’ employment and financial security– maybe forever?
    BTW, would that HHS survey-taker be a federal contractor employee– still encouraged to look the other way in the face of anti-LGBT workplace discrimination?
    No sir. Uh, uh, Williams Institute. I think there are a whole lot of questions that have apparently been dismissed– or maybe not recognized at all– by your distinguished scholars.
    What exactly is Williams and HHS going to “better understand” about the “health needs of LGB Americans” if the HHS survey count of LGBs is so obviously wildly skewed to underreporting of the LGB population?
    And wouldn’t any conclusions drawn by such a sham federal government survey also be deeply flawed?

  • As long as gay people can get fired from their jobs,who is asking the questions and how is it worded,

  • As long as gay people can get fired from their jobs,who is asking the questions and how is it worded,

  • Teddy Basham-Witherington

    Key word here is "identify" many more folks engage/have engaged in same-gender sexual relations and/or are physically/emotionally attracted to the same gender. They may also be attracted to different genders. As noted, the study is a step in the right direction, but the lack of enquiry regarding gender identity means no conclusions can be drawn on that score. If this "health" survey was identified as such to respondents, the denial factor was probably also in play.

  • It’d be interesting to know how many Americans would identify if the federal government actually included sexual orientation in the national Civil Rights Act. Until comprehensive human rights protection is afforded by the federal government, instead of failing to protect or violating human rights, then the target group rightfully has a reason to distrust any inquiry by any federal government agency.

  • So this means that only three families out of a hundred have gay people as members of the family? I don't think so. There are at least three gay people in my own family (including relatives). The key word here in this report is those that "identify" as LGB. The other 96 percent contain LGB people that don't admit to it.

  • No way in hell do I buy these numbers. Hell half of married men are trying to get laid by a gay guy! I didn't take this survey, so are we not included in the percentage? None of my friends were included…..bogus. I bet it's closer to 15%.

  • No way in hell do I buy these numbers. Hell half of married men are trying to get laid by a gay guy! I didn't take this survey, so are we not included in the percentage? None of my friends were included…..bogus. I bet it's closer to 15%.

  • I would even say higher because you are right about the married men.

  • Oh I know Rob….I've been propositioned at formal affairs where the man's wife is six feet away!!

  • Do you really believe that people would admit on a government survey or document that they were not straight? Are you normal? I'm normal.

  • I don't believe these numbers at all.

  • Did you ever know anyone who took this survey? It's conducted by Census takers. For this health survey, they interviewed <35,00 people.They missed San Francisco, New York, Miami & Wash DC. They must have hit the rural trails in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.

  • Not all men who have sex with men (MSM) are GAY. Being gay includes emotional attraction as well.

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