- The Magazine
There are 986 known out LGBTQ elected officials in the United States, marking a 17% increase over the past year, according to a recently released report.
The LGBTQ Victory Institute’s Out for America 2021 report finds that LGBTQ people hold just 0.19% of elected positions in the United States, despite making up at least 5.6% of the U.S. adult population.
That means to achieve equitable representation, relative to the proportion of the population they comprise, 28,116 more LGBTQ people would have to be elected to public office.
The report found that between June 2020 and June 2021, LGBTQ elected officials of color increased by 51% with Black LGBTQ elected officials growing at the fastest pace, up 75% from a year ago.
The number of queer-identified elected officials increased by 83%, faster than all other sexual orientations. The number of transgender women elected officials increased 71%, from 21 to 36 in total, while the number of out trans men remained stagnant, with only five serving nationwide.
In a notable accomplishment for women — who have not achieved parity with men when it comes to political representation overall — the number of out LGBQ cisgender women state legislators has surpassed the number of GBQ cisgender men state legislators for the first time.
The report also found that LGBTQ elected officials are significantly more racially and ethnically diverse than the overall elected official population, but still remain less diverse than the U.S. population at large.
LGBTQ people are serving in political office in 49 of 50 states, with only Mississippi lacking LGBTQ representation at any level of government.
Twenty-three of 50 states have out transgender officeholders, and 29 states have non-cisgender elected officials serving in some capacity. California leads the country with 157 out LGBTQ individuals serving in elected office, followed by Pennsylvania with 54 and Illinois with 43.
LGBTQ people are also equitably represented among mayors of top 100 cities for the first time (with six overall), but are underrepresented among smaller-city or town mayors, as well as other elected positions.
Out LGBTQ elected officials are overwhelmingly Democratic, with 84%, or 721 in total, identifying as Democrats. By comparison, only 26 out Republican officials are currently serving, constituting 3% of all LGBTQ elected officials.
A similar number of officials, 26, were elected as independents. That means that there are more out transgender elected officials than out LGBTQ Republican officials or out LGBTQ independent officials.
“While LGBTQ elected officials are growing steadily in number, at this pace it will still take decades to come anywhere close to achieving equitable representation in government,” Annise Parker, the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, which advocates for LGBTQ representation in government.
“This lack of representation has enormous consequences, because LGBTQ elected officials are best positioned to defend against anti-LGBTQ legislative attacks and to change the hearts and minds of colleagues in supporting inclusive policies.
“A moonshot effort to increase our numbers is essential to advancing equality at every level of government — and a large part of that is showing LGBTQ people that running for office is our best bet to achieve lasting social change,” Parker added.
In addition to the changes in representation over the last year, the Out for America report looks at trends since the report was first released in November 2017. In the time since then, LGBTQ elected officials increased by 121%, to 986, and LGBTQ elected officials of color increased by 201%, to 277.
Black LGBTQ elected officials have increased 296% to 91 overall, while LGBTQ Latinx elected officials have increased 135%, to 120 in total. Asian American and Pacific Islander elected officials have increased 117%, from 12 to 26.
The number of transgender women in office has increased 800%, while the number of bisexual elected officials has increased 787% over that period of time.
“LGBTQ elected officials are significantly more diverse than the overall elected official population — so their impact extends beyond LGBTQ equality alone,” Ruben Gonzales, the executive director of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said in a statement.
“LGBTQ elected officials are on the frontlines in legislative efforts to end police brutality, defend voting rights and secure inclusive healthcare reform. LGBTQ people are represented in every community in America and that diversity allows for more thoughtful policy changes when we are in office.”
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