A working group consisting of representatives from 21 federal agencies has began a study into how to best measure the size of the LGBT community in the United States. Estimates of the LGBT population vary widely, and that number has major implications when it comes to things like healthcare, elections, and social services. Accurate measurements are important, especially when differences of just 1% translate to more than 3 million people.
The U.S. Census questionnaire does not currently ask for information on sexual orientation or gender identity, and at this time there are no plans for such questions to be added. The Census Bureau does ask about unmarried partners, which before marriage equality was nationally recognized was one way to collect data on same-sex couples.
According to Gallup, about 5% of the population self-identifies as LGBT. However, many experts believe this number leaves out a large number of individuals who choose not to be labelled as gay. “There are many individuals who would fit under that [LGBT] umbrella because of behavior, but not any way they would personally self-identify,” Dr. Karen Parker of the National Institutes of Health told Time.