NCES Blog

National Center for Education Statistics

Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month With NCES

Sexual minorities are people whose sexual orientation is something other than straight or heterosexual.

Gender minorities are people whose sex as recorded at birth is different from their gender.

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and NCES is proud to share some of the work we have undertaken to collect data on the characteristics and well-being of sexual and gender minority (SGM) people. Inclusion of questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on federal surveys allows for a better understanding of SGM people relative to the general population. These questions generate data to inform the development of resources and interventions to better serve the SGM community. Giving respondents the opportunity to describe themselves and bring their “whole self” to a questionnaire also helps them to be more fully seen and heard by researchers and policymakers.

Sometimes, we get asked why questions like this appear on education surveys. They can be sensitive questions for some people, after all. We ask these questions so we can better understand educational equity and outcomes for SGM people, just as we do for other demographic groups, such as those defined by race, ethnicity, household income, and region of the country. Just as is the case for other demographic groups, it is possible that SGM people have unique experiences compared with students and educators from other demographic groups.

Over the past 10 years, NCES has researched how to best ask respondents about their sexual orientation and gender identity, how respondents react to these questions, and what the quality of the data is that NCES has collected in questionnaires and datasets that include sexual orientation and gender identity information.

Several NCES studies include background questions for adults about their sexual orientation and gender identity, including the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) Second Follow-up in 2016, the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B) 08/18 and 16/21 collections, the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) in 2020, the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) 20/22 and 20/25 collections, and the 2023–24 National Teacher and Principal Survey. In addition, the School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and sponsored by NCES, asks students several questions pertinent to SGM experiences. For example, the SCS asks students whether they were bullied due to their gender or sexual orientation and whether they experienced hate speech related to their gender or sexual orientation. As participants in the NCVS, students ages 16 and older who respond to the SCS also report their gender identity and sexual orientation. Collectively, these data allow NCES to describe the experiences of students who identify as sexual and gender minorities.

  • As of 2021, 2009 ninth-graders who were bisexual and questioning left postsecondary education without degrees or credentials at higher rates than other groups of students who were in ninth grade in 2009, and they earned bachelor’s or higher degrees at lower rates than other students.1
     
  • In 2020, some 9 percent of students who identified as genderqueer, gender nonconforming, or a different identity had difficulty finding safe and stable housing, which is the three times the rate of students who identified as male or female (3 percent each).2
     
  • In 2018, about 10 years after completing a 2007–08 bachelor’s degree, graduates who were gender minorities3 described their financial situations. Graduates who were gender minorities were less likely to own a home (31 percent) or hold a retirement account (74 percent) than graduates who were not gender minorities (63 percent and 87 percent, respectively).4
     
  • Among 2008 bachelor’s degree graduates with a full-time job in 2018, those who were straight people reported higher average salaries than those who were either lesbian/gay or bisexual.    
     
  • In the 2017–18 school year, 18 percent of public schools had a recognized student group that promoted the acceptance of students’ sexual orientation and gender identity, such as a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). This was an increase from the 2015–16 school year, in which 12 percent of schools reported having a GSA.5|
     
  • Among all students ages 12–18 in grades 6–12 who reported being bullied (19 percent), the percentage who reported being bullied due to their sexual orientation more than doubled from 2017 (4 percent) to 2022 (9 percent).6 That change was primarily driven by female students, for whom the percentage tripled from 2017 to 2022 (from 4 to 13 percent), while the percentage of bullied males who reported being bullied for their sexual orientation was not statistically significantly different across the period (3 percent in 2017 and 4 percent in 2022).

Figure 1. Among students ages 12–18 enrolled in grades 6–12 who reported being bullied, percentage who reported that they thought the bullying was related to their sexual orientation: 2017, 2019, and 2022

! Standard error for this estimate is 30 to 50 percent of the estimate’s value.

* Statistically significantly different (p < .05) from 2022. 


NCES is committed to collecting data about equity in education and describing the experiences of all students and educators, including SGM people.

To learn more about the research conducted at NCES and across the federal statistical system on the measurement of sexual orientation and gender identity, visit nces.ed.gov/FCSM/SOGI.asp.

Plus, be sure to follow NCES on XFacebookLinkedIn, and YouTube and subscribe to the NCES News Flash to stay informed when resources with SGM data are released.

 

By Elise Christopher, Maura Spiegelman, and Michael McGarrah, NCES


[1] SOURCE: Christopher, E. M. (2024). Disparities in postsecondary outcomes for LGBTQ+ individuals:
New evidence from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009. Presented at the American Education Research Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

[2] SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2019–20 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:20, preliminary data)

[3] On the NCES surveys mentioned above, gender identity categories include male; female; transgender, male-to-female; transgender, female-to-male; genderqueer or gender nonconforming; a different gender identity; and more than one gender identity.

[4] SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2008/18 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/18).

[5] SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–16 and 2017–18 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS).

[6] SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017, 2019, and 2022 School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)

 

Comments are closed