Previously published with permission.
Washington, DC – There are 843 known* openly LGBTQ elected officials in the United States – a 21 percent increase in the past year – according to LGBTQ Victory Institute’s Out for America 2020 digital report, which was released today. The increase is attributable to the growing number of LGBTQ people running for office, an increase in those willing to run openly, and incumbent elected officials who are coming out while in office. The report comes during an unprecedented election year for the LGBTQ community, with more than 880 openly LGBTQ people running for office in 2020 – the most ever.
While the growth in LGBTQ elected officials was strong, LGBTQ people still hold just 0.17 percent of elected positions in the United States despite making up 4.5 percent of the U.S. adult population. Americans must elect 22,544 more LGBTQ people to public office to achieve equitable representation in government.
The report found that over the past year (from June 2019 – June 2020):
- Bisexual representation increased by 53 percent and the number of queer-identified elected officials increased by 71 percent;
- Trans women elected officials grew by 40 percent, although there was no increase in representation for trans men;
- LGBTQ elected officials of color increased at a rate similar to LGBTQ elected officials overall; and
- The number of openly LGBTQ mayors increased by 35 percent.
The report also found a nine percent increase in LGBTQ state legislators over the past year – from 147 to 160 – despite just four states holding elections for their full state legislatures in 2019.
“While the number of LGBTQ elected officials continues to increase at a steady pace, we still must elect 22,544 more LGBTQ people to public office before equitable representation is achieved,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute. “The hateful legislation targeting our community in city councils, state legislatures and at the federal level is a byproduct of this gap in representation. Allied elected officials are critically important. But when LGBTQ elected officials are in the halls of power, they change the hearts and minds of their lawmaker colleagues, defeat anti-LGBTQ bills and inspire more inclusive legislation. The numbers in this report show LGBTQ political power is growing rapidly. But it also demonstrates the daunting representation gap that we must close and is a call-to-action for all in our community to consider a run for office.”
In addition to trends over the last year, the report also looks at trends since comprehensive data was first collected by Victory Institute after the November 2017 elections. Between November 2017 and June 2020, there was an 88 percent increase in known openly LGBTQ elected officials. During that period, the number of known openly LGBTQ elected officials of color doubled (from 92 to 184), including a 126 percent increase in known openly LGBTQ Black elected officials (from 23 to 52). However, Latinx representation grew at a slower rate (71 percent, from 51 to 87) as did Asian/Pacific Islander representation (42 percent, from 12 to 17) when compared to LGBTQ elected officials overall.
During that three and a half year time period, the number of known out trans elected officials more than quadrupled (from six to 26), but the number of cisgender women elected officials grew at a slower rate (77 percent, from 179 to 317) than LGBTQ elected officials overall. The number of known openly bisexual elected officials rose 550 percent (from 8 to 52). Pansexual elected officials rose from one to 11 and queer elected officials from two to 41.
The Out for America report is an annual analysis of LGBTQ elected representation in government based on Victory Institute’s LGBTQ elected officials database – the largest and most comprehensive listing available. The interactive Out for America map, updated weekly, displays all known LGBTQ elected officials and is available at outforamerica.org.
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