*Update: The report is now live. You can find it, here. 

This week, we announced the launch of a first-of-its-kind tracking survey aimed at studying America’s important and dynamic LGBTQ community. The research will combine daily tracking questions, ad hoc surveys, and CivicScience’s extensive respondent database to accurately measure the LGBTQ population; identify consumer, media, lifestyle, and wellness trends; and provide ongoing reports to corporate, non-profit, and civic leaders.

Why are we doing it?

First, because, historically, LGBTQ Americans have been extremely difficult to study at scale or in any kind of practical, real-time manner. Many people are uncomfortable sharing what they believe to be personal details with interviewers on the phone or in a survey panel, where their names and addresses are on record. This has created a huge blind-spot for policymakers, public and charitable service providers, and advertisers who want to better understand and serve this strong and engaged community.

Although the U.S. Census originally planned to introduce questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the upcoming 2020 Census survey, the agency reversed course in March. Due to the relatively low incidence rate of LGBTQ people in the U.S. population and poor survey response rates, commercial data on these consumers are limited as well.

As our friends at the LGBTQ Task Force said…

“Advocates do their best work when they can approach decision-makers with both stories of the lived experience of their constituencies and data that reflect trends among a population,” said Meghan Maury, Policy Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. “We are excited that CivicScience is working to ensure that we have the best information possible about the LGBTQ community. Preliminary findings will help us show decision-makers the needs and priorities of LGBTQ people.” 

In recognition of Pride Month, CivicScience made our first wave of research, derived from a representative sample of over 21,000 U.S. adults, available to clients and non-profit partners, like the LGBTQ Task Force, earlier this month. The research found that 10.3% of respondents identify as either Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Non-Binary, or Queer. 2.3% of LGBTQ respondents identified with more than one category.

These results suggest that the LGBTQ population in the U.S. may be much larger than many prevailing estimates. For example, in January, the esteemed researchers at Gallup estimated the population to be only 4.1% of Americans. We believe that the scale and anonymity of CivicScience’s survey methodology is uniquely equipped to overcome these systemic challenges. Our anonymous online polling methodology encourages more discrete response behavior, compared to a live phone interview, email, or survey panel, where respondents may be less open or forthcoming. In fact, 73% of LGBTQ youth say they are more honest about themselves online than in the real world, according to the Human Rights Campaign.  Even still, 10.6% of CivicScience respondents answered, “I’d rather not say,” implying that the actual incidence rate of LGBTQ Americans may be even higher.

Beyond the topline survey results, we’ve begun to study LGBTQ respondents across thousands of attributes including demographics, media consumption, brand and celebrity preferences, technology usage, political and social attitudes, shopping and dining behavior, personal finance, health, and lifestyle. Following are examples from the preliminary findings.

Compared to the broader U.S. population, LGBTQ adults in the U.S. are…

• 48% more likely to live in an urban area
• More likely to have graduated from college, but 60% more likely to be unemployed
• More likely to have studied the social sciences, arts, or humanities
• 76% more likely to be “very concerned” about climate change
• 2X more likely to use Snapchat
• 2X more likely to choose an “expensive meal” over gifts or travel when splurging

Our planned future research initiatives will delve deeply into health and wellness, preferences among over 250 major U.S. brands, media habits, shopping, and entertainment. We will also publish a bi-annual report on population growth and change, made available to clients, academic and civic partners, and the press.

We are excited to commit to this research over the long-term. Given how suitable our methodology is for engaging the LGBTQ community, we have an opportunity and, more importantly, a social responsibility to fill this critical information gap.