Press

How Big is the LGBT Community?

Date: 
April 14, 2010

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In final push of its Queer the Census campaign, Task Force releases assessment on estimated size of the LGBT community, placing it at 5-10% of general population

WASHINGTON, April 14 — Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have only a few days left to "Queer the Census" by affixing a big pink sticker that highlights their sexual orientation and/or gender identities to their census envelopes. Nearly 200,000 stickers have already been ordered and sent to LGBT community members and their allies.

The Queer the Census campaign is designed to compel federal and state governments to ask questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on all research surveys, including the census. The 2010 census will count same-sex partners, but not LGBT individuals.

"We need to make LGBT individuals visible, not only same-sex couples," said Queer the Census coordinator Vanessa Macoy.

To that end, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Policy Institute today released a paper, How Big is the LGBT Community? Why Can’t I Find This Number?, exploring the question of the estimated size of the LGBT community, placing it at 5-10% of the general population.

"A community without a number is an invisible community" said Jaime Grant, director of the Task Force's Policy Institute. "While we are heartened by the Obama administration's commitment to counting same-sex married and unmarried partners in the 2010 census, many of us are not partnered, and remain invisible in the nation's decennial portrait."

Accordingly, the Policy Institute convened more than 30 leading LGBT researchers to discuss how think-tanks and advocates respond to the perennial question by reporters and academics: How many LGBT people are there? The result of a lively, cross-disciplinary discussion is How Big is the LGBT Community?

"There is by no means an academic consensus on the size of our community. Population-based studies that ask sexual orientation and gender identity questions barely exist," said Grant. The Policy Institute brought prominent researchers together to review the scant existing data and consider ways to better identify LGBT people in large-scale research efforts.

"This convening underscored for us the need for the federal government to vastly improve its approach to research on our community," said National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey. "No matter what the community's size, it is vital we are counted and included. Every single person counts, and we will fight just as hard for our community whether we are a thousand or many millions."

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.