Friday, April 8, 2011

Williams Institute Estimate of LGBT People - Why Its Not Significant

Yikes, it has been over a week since I last posted. Please bear with me though, as I was at the University of Vermont for four days competing in the U.S. National Debate Championship, as well as had papers due and such when I got back. That being said, so much has happened in the past week, and though I would like to address many of them, I find that it is important to discuss the recent report by UCLA's Williams Institute on the LGBT population in the United States.

According to this survey, the LGBT population represents about 3.5% of the adult population in the U.S. - approximately the population of the state of New Jersey. What must be remembered when discussing this statistic, is that if the actual report is read, it will be noticed that this was not an independent survey itself, but instead was a "survey of surveys". Data from multiple sources was compiled, and then a deduction made based upon this data. In the end, the researchers at the Williams Institute came to the conclusion that they did.

Thankfully, the researchers did recognize the limitations of their own study, limitations that need to be pointed out. In fact, they recognize that 1. It is significantly difficult to take a survey of surveys - as the methodology of the different surveys may be vastly different. And 2. that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherently difficult statistics to measure, as they are subjective and answers may be subjected to outside stigmas.

Thus, I for one do not really care about the validity of the Williams survey. Yes, it is a good number to go on for a minimum threshold, but anyone in their right mind would realize that the social stigmatization that accompanies sexual orientation and gender identity - especially in the South and rural areas - significantly deflates the numbers. Thus, these numbers actually show that we are a significant minority - for at MINIMUM we are comparable to the state of New Jersey. That is good news to be sure as we make our case for full civil equality.

A full copy of the Williams Institute report can be found here.
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