Recent analysis of poll data by Gallup shows that Salt Lake City’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community ranks among the highest in the nation per capita. This comes as little surprise to Utah’s LGBT population, as it is considered one of those “everyone knows that” statistics. It is, however, headline-worthy in news outlets across the nation, as assumptions of Utah’s conservative bent translates to how LGBT people are treated.
In more than 374,000 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted between June 2012 and December 2014, Gallup asked, “Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?”
“This is the largest ongoing study of the distribution of the LGBT population in the U.S. on record, and the first time a study has had large enough sample sizes to provide estimates of the LGBT population by [metropolitan statistical area],” Gallup noted in a release.
The LGBT population in the Salt Lake City Metropolitan Statistical Area, consisting of Salt Lake and Tooele counties, is at 4.7 percent, according to the data that has less than a one percent margin. According to the most recently available population data, that means approximately 53,660 people in the area identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.
“The ranking of Salt Lake City in the top 10 may seem surprising because Utah is one of the most conservative states in the country,” the Gallup release stated. “However, the state recently passed a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and public accommodation, the first state to do so since 2007. The majority of states still do not have such laws on the books.”
San Francisco ranked highest at 6.2 percent, followed by Portland, Ore. at 5.4 percent. Austin, Tex., New Orleans, Boston and Seattle also ranked higher than Salt Lake City. Los Angeles and Denver trail Salt Lake at 4.6 percent.
Birmingham, Ala. was the lowest ranked at 2.6 percent, followed by Pittburgh, Penn. at 3.0 percent.
According to the Williams Institute of the University of California School of Law, Salt Lake City showed the highest shift in people responding that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender since 1990. Using U.S. Census data in regards to same-sex couples living in the same household, the institute found that Salt Lake City ranked as the 39th in same-sex couples residing together. It is important to note, however, that the Salt Lake City Metropolitan Statistical Area included Weber and Davis counties in 1990.
The Institute says that part of the difference may be attributed to the fact that people are more comfortable now than 25 years ago with identifying as LGBT.
“It can be tempting to interpret differences in the 1990 and 2012-2014 rankings as evidence that the location preferences of LGBT adults (with same-sex couples serving as a proxy for LGBT location patterns in 1990) have changed somewhat over time. But a 2013 Pew Research Center survey showed that just 12 percent of LGBT adults considered the levels of LGBT social acceptance in a city as a major factor in relocation decisions,” Williams Institute’s Gary Gates writes. “While differences in the location preferences of LGBT people compared to their non-LGBT counterparts may explain some of the geographic variation of same-sex couple or LGBT location patterns across metro areas, differences across metro areas in the willingness of residents to identify as LGBT or as part of a same-sex couple are also likely an important explanatory factor.”