Metro Weekly

D.C. Has Highest Percentage of LGBTQ Adults in Nation

The latest Williams Institute report studied the LGBTQ adult population in the U.S. with D.C. having the highest percentage.

Illustration: Kevynbj, via Dreamstime.

The District of Columbia has the highest percentage of people who identify as LGBTQ, according to a new report by the Williams Institute, an LGBTQ-focused think tank at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law. 

The report, released last month, provides an estimate of the number and percent of the U.S. LGBTQ adult population, based on data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a network of health-related telephone surveys that inquire about Americans’ health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services.

Based on the BRFSS data, the Williams Institute estimates that approximately 5.6% of the U.S. adult population identifies as LGBTQ, putting the estimated LGBTQ population at 14.1 million people overall.

While LGBTQ people reside in all regions of the country, the largest number of LGBTQ adults — similar to the overall population — live in the American South.

Nearly three-fifths of all LGBTQ adults live in the Midwest or the South, comprising about 8.1 million altogether.

About one-quarter of LGBTQ adults reside in the West region, which stretches from the Rocky Mountains through California and as far west as Alaska and Hawaii. 

In terms of sheer number of LGBTQ people, the top states with the largest LGBTQ populations, numerically, tend to be the more populous states overall.

Only Washington State, which ranks 13th overall in terms of population, cracks the top 10 when it comes to LGBTQ adults.

Consistent with advances in LGBTQ progress and greater social acceptability, nearly one in six adults aged 18 to 24 identified as LGBTQ, while one in 10 of those ages 25 to 34, and less than 5% of those aged 35 to 49, identify as LGBTQ. That percentage falls to fewer than 3% of those over age 50.

On a state level, the District of Columbia has the highest percentage of adults, at 14.3%, identifying as LGBTQ.

The next state with the highest LGBTQ population is Oregon, with 7.8%, followed by Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington State, Colorado, and Nevada. Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island tie for ninth overall, with 6.5% of the population identifying as LGBTQ.

In terms of raw numbers, the states with the most LGBTQ people (numerically) are California, with an estimated 1.5 million people, followed by Texas, with more than 1 million, followed by Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, and Washington State, which rounds out the top 10 with an estimated 398,000 LGBTQ adults.

Editor’s note: The Williams Institute has since released an apology and a correction on data from Kentucky. The report originally named Kentucky as having the second-highest percentage of LGBTQ adults, at 10.5%. The correct figure is 4.9%, which changes the top 10 rankings for state-level data. This story has been changed to reflect that update.

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