Survey finds nearly 1 in 5 young adults say they’re ‘not straight’

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A new global survey has found more young people than ever are identifying as members of the LGBTQ community.

Ipsos’  LGBT+ Pride 2021 Global Survey found a generation gap in sexual orientation and gender identity.

Overall, 9 percent of respondents identified as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual or asexual. But for Generation Z – those born after 1997 – that number doubled.

“Among Generation Z, those under 25, it’s 18-percent. So it’s almost 1 in 5 young adults who identify in a way that’s different from heterosexual and in the United States, it’s a little bit higher than the global average,” said Nicolas Boyon, Senior VP with Ipsos. “This is really new. This is not something we saw in the past.”

The survey was conducted among nearly 20,000 people in 27 countries.

Along with questions about their personal identity and orientation, questions were also asked about how much exposure there was to LGBTQ+ people and culture.

“One of the things we’ve asked is whether you have a relative or a friend or a co-worker who is gay or lesbian, who is bisexual, who is transgender or non-binary,” Boyon said. “In the US, 57% told us that they have someone close to them who is a lesbian or gay, we found 30% of Americans say that they know someone close who is bisexual but we actually found 14-percent who say that they know somebody who is transgender.”

“To see the data, it’s incredibly heartening and encouraging because I feel what it demonstrates is more and more people feeling comfortable telling their truth,” said

Densil Porteous, Executive Director and CEO of Stonewall Columbus. “Often times people have a challenge finding words or language to describe who they are or what they are or how they feel. And I think what we’ve seen in this particular moment is that our young folk are finding and identifying with language that allows them to say ‘This is who I am.’ and that freedom to speak up, live out loud and be proud.”

Porteous believes that increased representation in the real world and media has helped the growing number of people willing to identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“If you see someone that doesn’t look like you, and you’re exposed to difference that you become familiar with that and you become comfortable with that. So I think that’s ultimately what this is about.” Porteous said. “I would venture to say it’s not more people being this or identifying this way. I think it’s comfort. It’s familiarity. It’s a sense of self. A sense of pride to be able to step up and identify this way.”

The survey also found support for issues like same-sex marriage, adoption and workplace discrimination protections is up around the globe. In the US, 72% said same-sex couples should be allowed to marry or to obtain some legal and should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexual couples. 60% or respondents also support laws banning discrimination against LGBTQ+ people from employment and housing.

However, one issue remains divisive.

“Globally, we see equal proportions of people who support and oppose the idea of transgender athletes performing according to their gender identity,” Boyon said. “In the U.S., we see more opposition than support. We see 45 percent opposing and only 27 percent supporting. And then there are a lot of people who are neutral, they’re on the cusp.”

That’s why advocates like Porteous say it’s important to remember that pride started as a protest, not a party.

“Our younger generation does stand on the shoulders of so many who fought hard so they can be their full selves, so that they could step out into the world as they should and I hope that’s something young folks understand and see,” he said.

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