Feb 23, 2024 - News

Younger Arkansans more likely to identify as LGBT

Data: UCLA Williams Institute; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: UCLA Williams Institute; Chart: Axios Visuals

About 5.3% of Arkansas adults identify as LGBT, compared to 5.5% nationally, a recent analysis indicates.

Why it matters: It's difficult to pin down the exact size of the LGBT population nationwide or in any state, in part because gold-standard data collection efforts like the decennial census or the American Community Survey lack specific relevant questions.

  • Yet, having some sense of the LGBT community's size is vital for meeting its public health and other policy needs.

Zoom in: A larger share of younger Arkansas residents self-identify as LGBT compared to older residents, per the analysis.

  • 14.9% of adults ages 18-24 identify as LGBT, compared with 8.8% of those 25-34, 4% of those 35-49, 2.6% of those 50-64 and 1.7% of those 65 or older.

Details: The estimates come by way of the Williams Institute, a UCLA Law think tank focused on sexual orientation, along with gender identity law and public policy.

  • They're based on combined 2020-2021 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an effort by the Centers for Disease Control to collect wide-ranging health info through phone surveys.

State of play: Arkansas is one of 23 states with the Human Rights Campaign's lowest designation of "high priority to achieve basic equality," as LGBT people have few protections. The state doesn't have a hate-crime law and doesn't prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing or employment.

Between the lines: Gen Z has grown up in a time when there's less stigma surrounding LGBT people, making it easier to be openly LGBT than it was for past generations, The Washington Post reported.

Reality check: These findings are based on self-reporting, and people in states with hostile attitudes toward LGBT communities may be less forthcoming about their identity.

What they're saying: "The world is changing around us, and we have to think about what that means to shift environments and policies so that everybody can live well and live safely," Williams Institute research director Kerith Conron told Axios.

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