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Dishonesty about the ‘how many LGBTs’ study

Timothy Kincaid

April 8th, 2011

Gary Gates of UCLA’s Williams Institute has made a tentative calculation of the LGBT population. I’ll have an analysis up soon about his calculation. But, in the meanwhile, please be careful in what you read. A number of unscrupulous reporters are nearly giddy in their misrepresentation of Gates’ work.

Take, for example, the way in which SanDiego6 distorts the story:

A California demographer has released a best guess of how many gay men and lesbians there are in the U.S.

Gary Gates puts the figure at 4 million adults, representing 1.7 percent of the 18-and-over population.

That’s much lower than the 3 to 5 percent that has been the conventional wisdom in the last two decades, based on other isolated studies.

This is so dishonest that it is difficult to attribute the inaccuracy to ignorance or carelessness. Gates did not “put the figure at 4 million adults.” Here is what Gates actually said (PDF):

  • An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender.
  • This implies that there are approximately 9 million LGBT Americans, a figure roughly equivalent to the population of New Jersey.
  • Among adults who identify as LGB, bisexuals comprise a slight majority (1.8% compared to 1.7% who identify as lesbian or gay).

San Diego 6 doesn’t even mention bisexuals, choosing instead to go the lower number and pretending that it is reflective of the study.

Not surprisingly, this is the same spin that American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer put on the report. Perhaps they share the same motivation.

Comments

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gar
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

Not surprisingly, this is the same spin that American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer put on the report. Perhaps they share the same motivation.

I’m sure they share the same motivation. When I read the story in the Oakland Tribune (or maybe it was the online SF Chronicle), I thought “really? 4 million? That sounds awfully low.”

Minimize to belittle, an old story.

Graham
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

So uh, what percentage of the population do we have to be before we are deemed significant enough to deserve equality? Is there a magic number?

Richard W. Fitch
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

Doing a very quick search gave the result that in the US population aprox. 2.2% are Jewish. Would anyone claim that this sector of the American people is somehow insignificant?

Ryan
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

gar, even the SF Chronical is misreporting the figure?! That’s terrible. I would expect it from a conservative town like SD.

Lucrece
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

Alex Blaze at Bilerico gave the report some pretty good treatment.

These studies are meaningless until we live in a society where universally homosexuals aren’t stigmatized or have little reason to conceal their relations.

And even then the issue of identification comes up. Some people will simply not accept gay or homosexual. Some will be men who sleep with men, same-gender loving men, queer men, and the list goes on. In this generation some youth are even refusing labels.

enough already
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

I would save one single Jew among all of us would be reason enough to demand their full and equal treatment as humans and with absolute respect of their civil rights.

We’ve been down that road before. We know where it ends. Right about 20 minutes walk from my home in Germany, actually, at a former concentration camp.

Civil and human rights must never depend on the number of humans with those characteristics. By virtue of being human, we are imbued with these rights.

Sam
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

Growing up in rural Montana in the 70’s I thought I was the only gay kid in the world. But years later I find that of my graduating class of 16 kids, 3 of the boys including me are gay, and at least one other boy is gay or bi and another boy who moved away the year before graduating was very gay. That’s about 25% and probably pretty unusual. Or is it? I’ve not heard of anyone else from my hometown, but everyone moves away if they don’t fit in and you never hear of them again.

Timothy Kincaid
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

Lucrece, my analysis is coming… it contains some of the same objections as Blaze but from a different perspective.

Sam, aha! So Montana is that elusive place where the water turns you gay.

;)

Gnasher
April 12th, 2011 | LINK

Be counted, then what??? ‘Ahuh there is an increase in glbt, let’s build more bars & hospitals!’
Leave us alone!!

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