Rapid Rise in LGBT Identification Is Due to it Being Trendy, Report Suggests

Rapid Rise in LGBT Identification Is Due to it Being Trendy, Report Suggests

The dramatic rise in LGBT identification among young people has been driven by social and political factors, according to new research from the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology that also shows transgender identification is possibly on the decline.

Talk show host Bill Maher recently drew the ire of the LGBT community when he suggested that young people are increasingly identifying as gay, lesbian or transgender because it’s trendy.

“If this spike in trans children is all biological, why is it regional? Either Ohio is shaming them, or California is creating them,” Maher said.

The research by the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology (CSPI), though, suggests Maher is right.

Gallup survey released this year showed that 21 percent of young adults identify as LGBT – an increase from 10.5 percent in 2017. The CSPI report notes that same-sex behavior during that time has “grown much less rapidly than LGBT identification.”

“LGBT identity has risen 11 points among Americans under 30 since 2008, but same-sex behavior has only risen 4 points,” the study’s author, Eric Kaufmann, wrote. “... Bisexuality, especially among women, accounts for nearly half the LGBT [identification] among young people.”

The percentage of young people identifying as transgender has started to fall, the study suggests. It cites a Foundation for Individual Rights in Education study of 50,000 undergraduates that showed the percentage of college students identifying as “non-binary” fell from 1.5 percent in 2020 to 0.9 percent in 2021. (Students were given only three options: male, female and non-binary.) Kaufmann called it a “statistically significant drop.”

The surge in LGBT identification, the report said, is concentrated among young Americans who are very liberal.

“Overall, the data suggest that while there has been an increase in same-sex behavior in recent years, sociopolitical factors likely explain most of the rise in LGBT identity,” the report said. “... If, as the data show, sexual orientation is highly correlated with political beliefs, then might we expect to see Democrats benefit from this shift in the future? This report suggests perhaps not, as the LGBT rise is taking place largely within the liberal voting bloc, limiting its potential to shift the partisan balance.”

Meanwhile, the CSPI research also showed that mental health has declined more rapidly among LGBT young people than among heterosexual young people.

“The share of heterosexual young people reporting anxiety the previous month rose from 32% in 2012 to 35% in 2015 to 41% in 2018,” the report said. “However, among young gay and bisexual teens, it soared from about 55% in 2012 to 65% in 2015 to 72% in 2018.26. All this during a time of rising toleration of LGBT lifestyles.”


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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Vladimir Vladimirov

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.