They attribute the changes to a variety of factors, from people knowing and interacting with someone who is LGBT, to advocacy on their behalf by high-profile public figures, to LGBT adults raising families.
Most who did tell a parent say that it was difficult, but relatively few say that it damaged their relationship. The survey finds that 12 is the median age at which lesbian, gay and bisexual adults first felt they might be something other than heterosexual or straight. For those who say they now know for sure that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, that realization came at a median age of Among those who have shared this information with a family member or close friend, 20 is the median age at which they first did so.
Gay men report having reached all of these coming out milestones somewhat earlier than do lesbians and bisexuals. The survey was conducted April , , and administered online, a survey mode that research indicates tends to produce more honest answers on a range of sensitive topics than do other less anonymous modes of survey-taking. For more details, see Chapter 1 and Appendix 1. The survey finds that the LGBT population is distinctive in many ways beyond sexual orientation.
Compared with the general public, Pew Research LGBT survey respondents are more liberal, more Democratic, less religious, less happy with their lives, and more satisfied with the general direction of the country. On average, they are younger than the general public.
Their family incomes are lower, which may be related to their relative youth and the smaller size of their households. They are also more likely to perceive discrimination not just against themselves but also against other groups with a legacy of discrimination. About the Survey Findings in this report are based on two main data sources: This report is based primarily on a Pew Research Center survey of the LGBT population conducted April , , among a nationally representative sample of 1, self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults 18 years of age or older.
The sample comprised gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and 43 transgender adults. The survey questionnaire was written by the Pew Research Center and administered by the GfK Group using KnowledgePanel, its nationally representative online research panel. The online survey mode was chosen for this study, in part, because considerable research on sensitive issues such as drug use, sexual behavior and even attendance at religious services indicates that the online mode of survey administration is likely to elicit more honest answers from respondents on a range of topics.
The margin of sampling error for the full LGBT sample is plus or minus 4. Same-Sex Marriage On the topic of same-sex marriage, not surprisingly, there is a large gap between the views of the general public and those of LGBT adults. Large majorities of LGBT adults and the general public agree that love, companionship and making a lifelong commitment are very important reasons to marry.
This report makes no attempt to estimate the share of the U. Other recent survey-based research reports have made estimates in the 3. However, all such estimates depend to some degree on the willingness of LGBT individuals to disclose their sexual orientation and gender identity, and research suggests that not everyone in this population is ready or willing to do so. See Appendix 1 for a discussion of these and other methodological issues. The table above provides a look at key demographic characteristics of the full Pew Research LGBT survey sample and its three largest sub-groups—bisexuals, gay men and lesbians.
It shows, among other things, that bisexuals are younger, have lower family incomes and are less likely to be college graduates than gay men and lesbians. The relative youth of bisexuals likely explains some of their lower levels of income and education. The survey also finds that bisexuals differ from gay men and lesbians on a range of attitudes and experiences related to their sexual orientation. Likewise, about half of gay men and lesbians say their sexual orientation is extremely or very important to their overall identity, compared with just two-in-ten bisexual men and women.
Gays and lesbians are also more likely than bisexuals to say their sexual orientation is a positive factor in their lives, though across all three subgroups, many say it is neither positive nor negative.
Only a small fraction of all groups describe their sexual orientation or gender identity as a negative factor. Roughly three-quarters of bisexual respondents to the Pew Research survey are women. By contrast, gay men outnumber lesbians by about two-to-one among survey respondents. Bisexuals are far more likely than either gay men or lesbians to be married, in part because a large majority of those in committed relationships have partners of the opposite sex and thus are able to marry legally.
Also, two-thirds of bisexuals say they either already have or want children, compared with about half of lesbians and three-in-ten gay men. Across the LGBT population, more say bisexual women and lesbians are accepted by society than say this about gay men, bisexual men or transgender people.
Transgender adults are viewed as less accepted by society than other LGBT groups: Surveys of the general public show that societal acceptance is on the rise. More Americans now say they favor same-sex marriage and fewer say homosexuality should be discouraged, compared with a decade ago.
A new Pew Research Center analysis shows that among the general public, knowing someone who is gay or lesbian is linked with greater acceptance of homosexuality and support for same-sex marriage.
Still, a significant share of the public believes that homosexuality should be discouraged and that same-sex marriage should not be legal. Much of this resistance is rooted in deeply held religious attitudes, such as the belief that engaging in homosexual behavior is a sin. And the public is conflicted about how the rising share of gays and lesbians raising children is affecting society. Age, Gender and Race The survey finds that the attitudes and experiences of younger adults into the LGBT population differ in a variety of ways from those of older adults, perhaps a reflection of the more accepting social milieu in which younger adults have come of age.
For example, younger gay men and lesbians are more likely to have disclosed their sexual orientation somewhat earlier in life than have their older counterparts. Some of this difference may be attributable to changing social norms, but some is attributable to the fact that the experiences of young adults who have not yet identified as being gay or lesbian but will do so later in life cannot be captured in this survey.
In addition women, whether lesbian or bisexual, are significantly more likely than men to either already have children or to say they want to have children one day. While the same-sex marriage issue has dominated news coverage of the LGBT population in recent years, it is only one of several top priority issues identified by survey respondents. When asked in an open-ended question to name the national public figures most responsible for advancing LGBT rights, President Barack Obama, who announced last year that he had changed his mind and supports gay marriage, tops the list along with comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who came out as a lesbian in and has been a leading advocate for the LGBT population ever since then.
For the most part LGBT adults are in broad agreement on which institutions they consider friendly to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
And they offer opinions on a range of public policy issues that are in sync with the Democratic and liberal tilt to their partisanship and ideology.
Self and Country LGBT adults and the general public are also notably different in the ways they evaluate their personal happiness and the overall direction of the country. Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals are roughly equal in their expressed level of happiness.
Opinions on this question are strongly associated with partisanship. They have more mixed views of the Jewish religion and mainline Protestant churches, with fewer than half of LGBT adults describing those religions as unfriendly, one-in-ten describing each of them as friendly and the rest saying they are neutral.
The survey finds that LGBT adults are less religious than the general public. Of those LGBT adults who are religiously affiliated, one-third say there is a conflict between their religious beliefs and their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Pew Research surveys of the general public show that while societal views about homosexuality have shifted dramatically over the past decade, highly religious Americans remain more likely than others to believe that homosexuality should be discouraged rather than accepted by society. In addition, religious commitment is strongly correlated with opposition to same-sex marriage. Community Identity and Engagement As LGBT adults become more accepted by society, the survey finds different points of view about how fully they should seek to become integrated into the broader culture.
When it comes to community engagement, gay men and lesbians are more involved than bisexuals in a variety of LGBT-specific activities, such as attending a gay pride event or being a member of an LGBT organization. Overall, many LGBT adults say they have used their economic power in support or opposition to certain products or companies.
There are big differences across LGBT groups in how they use social networking sites. A Note on Transgender Respondents Transgender is an umbrella term that groups together a variety of people whose gender identity or gender expression differs from their birth sex.
Some identify as female-to-male, others as male-to-female. Others may call themselves gender non-conforming, reflecting an identity that differs from social expectations about gender based on birth sex. Some may call themselves genderqueer, reflecting an identity that may be neither male nor female. And others may use the term transsexual to describe their identity. A transgender identity is not dependent upon medical procedures. While some transgender individuals may choose to alter their bodies through surgery or hormonal therapy, many transgender people choose not to do so.
People who are transgender may also describe themselves as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual. In the Pew Research Center survey, respondents were asked whether they considered themselves to be transgender in a separate series of questions from the question about whether they considered themselves to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or heterosexual see Appendix 1 for more details.
Although there is limited data on the size of the transgender population, it is estimated that 0. However, their survey responses are represented in the findings about the full LGBT population throughout the survey. The responses to both open- and closed-ended questions do allow for a few general findings. For example, among transgender respondents to this survey, most say they first felt their gender was different from their birth sex before puberty.
For many, being transgender is a core part of their overall identity, even if they may not widely share this with many people in their lives. And just as gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals perceive less commonality with transgender people than with each other, transgender adults may appear not to perceive a great deal of commonality with lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. In particular, issues like same-sex marriage may be viewed as less important by this group, and transgender adults appear to be less involved in the LGBT community than are other sub-groups.
Here are some of the voices of transgender adults in the survey: Now I feel more at home in the world, though I must admit, not completely. There is still plenty of phobic feeling. I am very empathetic because of my circumstance.
Identifying as another gender is not easy. We mostly tried to conform and simply lived two lives at once. The stress caused a very high suicide rate and a higher rate of alcohol addiction somehow I was spared both. But most people are willing to change for you if they care enough. Most people know me one way and to talk to them about a different side of me can be disconcerting. For the ones that do it out of disrespect, I just talk to them one on one and ask for them to do better.
Notes on Terminology Unless otherwise noted, all references to whites, blacks and others are to the non-Hispanic components of those populations. Hispanics can be of any race. Non-whites refers to people whose race is not white e. References to the political party identification of respondents include those who identify with a political party or lean towards a specific political party. Those identified as independents do not lean towards either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.
Acknowledgments Many Pew Research Center staff members contributed to this research project. Paul Taylor oversaw the project and served as lead editor of the report. Parker wrote chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 4 was written by Eileen Patten.