Young people in England and Wales are LGB+ | Sexuality


Youth openness to sexuality has been revealed in unprecedented census data, with 16- to 24-year-olds twice as likely to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or other minority sexual orientation (LGB+) than the general population.

In Brighton and Hove, one of the UK’s long-standing gay capitals, fewer than one in six 16-24 year olds identify with their gender identity – double the England and Wales average of 6.9% for the age group. The figures come from the 2021 census, which examines the age profile of 1.5 million LGB+ people in England and Wales.

The graph shows that 16-24 year olds identify as LGGB+

Almost one in 10 women aged 16-24 identify as LGB+, compared to 2% of women aged 45-54.

The March 21, 2021 census was the first time government statisticians asked everyone over the age of 16 about their sex and gender identity.

They found that more than half of LGB+ people are between the ages of 16 and 34, a group that makes up less than a third of the general population. Overall, there were 830,000 to 706,000 more LGB+ women than men – a bigger difference than the 1.5 million more women explained in the general population.

In the youngest cohort, there were usually two or more colleges in different sexual orientation locations. These include Ceredigion in Wales, Norwich, Cambridge and Lincoln.

In England and Wales, the youngest women were three times more likely to identify as bisexual than gay or lesbian, and 71% of bisexuals across all age groups were female.

The graph shows the probability of women aged 16-24 and men aged 25-34 identifying as LGGB+.

As the population ages, rates of bisexuality decline rapidly, and people identify as gay or lesbian in all older age groups.

A sharp decline in the number of people in older age groups who identify as a minority sexual orientation may raise questions about homophobic attitudes.

The proportion of people identifying as LGB+ was highest (6.9%) among 16-25 year olds, then decreased by age group to 0.4% among those aged 75 and over.

“These people are afraid to say they are LGBTQ+,” said a spokesperson for LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall. “People in their 70s came of age when homosexuality was criminalized and they were afraid of prison. It is to be expected that this group will be afraid.

The peak age of minority sexual orientation males was slightly higher than that of females, between 25 and 34, with 5.1% saying they were LGB+.

There was also a difference in the proportion of men identifying as LGB+ in England and Wales, with only 2.7% in Wales and 3% in England. The Isle of Anglesey, off the north coast of Wales, has just 485 LGB+ men registered – the lowest figure of anywhere in Wales at 1.8%.

The most heterogeneous group divided by age and gender was women aged 55 to 64, 92% of whom identified as heterosexual. In both sexes, the proportion of people who ticked the “heterosexual” box declined in the 65 and older age groups.

Separate figures for gender identity showed that young people were more likely to self-identify as transgender, with 1% of 16-24 year olds saying their gender identity was different to their registered sex at birth. This is 0.5% of the total population.

Chart showing 1% of 16-24 year olds who identify as transgender

The numbers also highlighted the diverse attitudes toward gender and sexuality among the transgender population. About one in three people who identify as trans male or trans female said their gender is different from their gender identity, and about two thirds responded with the same gender they registered for gender identity.

Stonewall said the data should be a “wake-up call for leaders in all walks of life.”

“Rainbow Generations is your future,” he said. “Soon, these generations will make up the bulk of our workforce, the people who consume our media, the talent pool for our sports, the audience for our cultural products, the people we want to nurture as future voters.

“For Z and Millennials, there are more LGBTQ+ people in these generations and we are a bigger part of every constituency, workplace, sports club or religious community than previous generations.”

The charity called on the government to improve services for these groups, such as tackling homophobic discrimination in care settings.

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