Friday, March 8, 2013

LGBT survey data

Gallup released a poll about the LGBT community state by state. The question that they asked was "do you personally identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender?"  The national average is about 3.5% according to Gallup.  The median is 3.4%.  The most was 10% in the District of Columbia, followed by Hawai'i at 5.1%.  All of the states were around 2% of the average.  The lowest was North Dakota, by far, at 1.7%.  The lowest besides North Dakota was 2.6% shared by Tennessee, Mississippi, and Montana.  Somewhat surprising by North Dakota's low LGBT population is that South Dakota's LGBT population is 4.4% which is one of the highest ones in the nation.

Here's where it gets interesting.  All of the states, except Souh Dakota, with an LGBT population of 4% have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientatation or sexual identity.  Gallup has done a poll based on what states are the most conservative and which are the most liberal. 

So, let's take a look at the states listed as the most conservative and most liberal with the percentage of the LGBT population based on the Gallup poll.

Most Conservative
1. Alabama: 2.8%
2. North Dakota: 1.7%
3. Wyoming: 2.9%
4. Mississippi: 2.6%
5. Utah: 2.7%
6. Oklahoma: 3.4%
7. Idaho: 2.7%
8. Louisiana: 3.2%
9. Nebraska: 2.7%
10. Arkansas: 3.5%

Most Liberal
1. District of Columbia: 10%
2. Massachusetts: 4.4%
3. Oregon: 4.9%
4. Vermont: 4.9%
5. Delaware: 3.4%
6. Connecticut:3.4%
7. Washington: 4.0%
8. Rhode Island: 4.5%
9. Hawai'i: 5.1%
10. New York: 3.8%

Based on this, there are a couple competing explanations for why there is variation state by state in LGBT populations.

One theory is that if the state is more liberal or more accepting of the LGBT community, then it is likely that more people would self-identify as a member of this communty.

Another theory is that members of the LGBT community consciously choose to live in states that are more accepting of the LGBT community.  Based on what we know of the LGBT community, which is that they are increasingly young female non-whites which puts them at economic disadvantages to move.  This theory seems less likely.

If we accept the first theory, it does put us in a situation where we might have to assume that the states that are less accepting of the LGBT community have a higher percentage than are willing to self-identify as such.  Is that possible?  Certainly.  While averages and medians are not perfect, I suspect that the states on the lower end of the self-identifying stats have a LGBT percentage much closer to South Dakota than North Dakota.

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