LGBTQ Agenda: Survey says more than 1 in 4 Gen Z adults are not straight

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday February 13, 2024
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A new survey reveals that 1 in 4 members of Gen Z are not straight. Image: Courtesy PRRI
A new survey reveals that 1 in 4 members of Gen Z are not straight. Image: Courtesy PRRI

A survey released last month shows 28% of Generation Z adults identify as something other than straight.

The survey was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute; it found 72% of Gen Z adults identify as straight, while 15% identify as bisexual, 5% as gay or lesbian, and 8% as something else, not among those options. Gen Z people are those born between 1997 and 2012.

Melissa Deckman, Ph.D., a straight woman who is the CEO of PRRI, told the Bay Area Reporter that "it's striking."

"Gen X, Boomers, Silent [generation], relatively few Americans identified as something other than straight," Deckman said.

Indeed, the survey found that only 3% of those in the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945) identified as something other than straight. That rises to 4% among Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), 7% among Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980), and 16% among millennials (born between 1981 and 1996).

Gallup found last year that 20.8% of Gen Z adults identified as LGBTQ, compared with 10.5% of millennials. Fifty-seven percent of those who identified as LGBTQ identified as bisexual.

"I see other surveys finding among Gen Z one in four, so I don't think that's out of bounds compared to other survey research," Deckman said. "I think one in four is a good metric; I think that this is consistent with other surveys that Gen Zers are more likely to identify as LGBTQ or queer than older Americans."

Kelley Robinson, president of the national LGBTQ rights group Human Rights Campaign, reacted positively to the news in a statement.

"Whether it's at the polls, in marches and rallies, or online, LGBTQ+ visibility matters and Gen Z is a force for change," Robinson stated. "Thousands of LGBTQ+ young people turn 18 each day — and lawmakers should understand there will be repercussions in November for anti-LGBTQ+ political attacks.

"While LGBTQ+ people have always existed, it's not always been, and still often is not, easy to live freely and openly," she added. "We will continue our work towards a future where everyone in every generation can be free and comfortable to be their authentic selves."

The survey was part of a "larger profile of Gen Z American adults," Deckman said. The survey sample was 6,616 participants, out of which 764 were Gen Z adults.

"Generation Z has come of age during a particularly tumultuous time, beginning with the 2016 election of Donald Trump, the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol after President [Donald] Trump refused to concede his loss in the 2020 presidential election," the report states. "Sometimes referred to as the Lockdown Generation, Gen Z has had to grapple with an unprecedented epidemic of school shootings. They are also clear-eyed about the existential threat that climate change poses to their futures. These concerns have prompted many Gen Zers to take to the streets and organize in their communities."

The first generation raised after the advent of the smartphone, 52% say social media is important for making meaningful connections.

They are also more likely to report feeling negative emotions much or all of the time. Thirty-eight percent report issues with anxiety, 24% with depression, 20% with anger, and 47% with hopelessness, the survey found.

"Gen Z adults are consistently more likely than older generations and Gen Z teens to experience negative emotions often or almost all the time," the report states. "Negative emotions are more common among Gen Z Americans who rely on social media to make meaningful connections."

But not all hope is lost — old fashioned, in-person activities can help, the report states.

"Gen Zers who make meaningful connections through in-person activities, such as religious activities or sports, report feeling fewer negative emotions, while Gen Zers who make meaningful connections through social media sites report feeling more negative emotions," the report states.

Gen Z adults had similar political affiliation patterns to the general public (36% identify as Democrats, 21% as Republicans, and 30% are unaffiliated, with 13% saying they "don't know").

The majority, 53%, reports that religion is not as important as other things in their lives, if it is important at all. Fifty-four percent of Gen Z adults identify as Christians (the survey did not ask Protestant versus Catholic, or other Christian), compared to 65% of the general public. Still, 20% go to weekly services, compared to 23% of the general public. They did report more trust in organized religion than millennials (41-34%) indicated.

"More than four in 10 Americans (43%) agree with the statement 'we won't be able to solve the country's big problems until the older generation no longer holds power,'" the report states. "The majority of Gen Z adults (58%) and millennials (54%) agree with that idea, compared with four in 10 Gen Xers (40%), one-third of baby boomers (33%), and around one in four of the Silent Generation (26%)."

LGBTQ Agenda is an online column that appears weekly. Got a tip on queer news? Contact John Ferrannini at [email protected]

Due to the Presidents Day holiday, the LGBTQ Agenda column will return Tuesday, February 27.

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