Americans overestimate LGBT+ population in the US, survey finds

American adults vastly overestimate how large the LGBT+ population is in the US, a survey suggests.

Although Americans believe LGBT+ people make up nearly a quarter of the US population, the figure is closer to 4.5 percent in reality, according to Gallup.

In a survey, Gallup asked: “Just your best guess, what percent of Americans today would you say are gay or lesbian?”

The results suggests American adults believe LGBT+ people make up nearly 24 percent of the population, more than five times the real percentage.

In May 2015, Gallup found that Americans thought LGBT+ people made up 23.2 percent of the population, and in May 2011, they thought the percentage was 24.6 percent.

“Americans’ estimate of the proportion of gay people in the US is more than five times Gallup’s more encompassing 2017 estimate that 4.5 percent of Americans are LGBT, based on respondents’ self-identification as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” the Gallup report read.

The figure is closer to 4.5 percent in reality (Andrea Morales/Getty Images)

“All available estimates of the actual gay and lesbian population in the US are far lower than what the public estimates and no measurement procedure has produced any figures suggesting that more than one out of five Americans are gay or lesbian.”

The report added Gallup has “seen the percentage of self-identifying LGBT people grow among millennials, who are making up an increasing share of the US adult population”.

“It is, therefore, possible that Americans’ perceptions of the gay population may be influenced by the greater representation they see among young people,” the report read.

“This also likely explains why younger adults produce higher estimations, as LGBT self-identifiers make up a larger share of their peers than is the case for older Americans.”

The Williams Institute, a UCLA think tank that specialises in LGBT+ research, found that younger people were the most likely to identify as queer.

Fifty-six percent of LGBT+ adults are under the age of 35, compared with only 28 percent of non-LGBT+ adults.

And while 47 percent of the general population are over the age of 50, for LGBT+ people that figure drops to 23 percent.

Kerith Conron, research director at the Williams Institute, says that younger people feel more comfortable identifying as queer “because they are growing up in a time when it’s more acceptable to acknowledge those feelings and act on them.”

According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, only 2 percent of people identify as LGB.