What data do you have on the characteristics and well-being of sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations?
Inclusion of questions about sexual orientation (SO) and gender identity (GI) on federal surveys allows for better understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) populations relative to the general population. These data meet critical needs to understand trends within larger population groups, and insights can lead to potential resources and interventions needed to better serve the community. Giving respondents the opportunity to describe themselves and bring their “whole self” to a questionnaire helps them to be seen and heard by researchers and policymakers.
Sometimes, NCES gets asked why questions like this appear on an education survey. They can be sensitive questions for some people, after all. NCES asks these questions to be able to understand equity and outcomes related to education for these demographic characteristics, just as NCES does for other demographic information like race, ethnicity, household income, and what part of the country a student lives in. And just as for other demographic and background information, it is possible to have minority subgroups that might have different experiences than other subgroups. By sexual minorities, this Fast Fact means people who report their sexual orientation to be something other than straight or heterosexual, and by gender minorities, this Fast Fact means people whose sex as recorded at birth is different from their gender.
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 the quality of data that NCES has collected in questionnaires and datasets that include sexual identity and gender data.
At NCES, several studies include background questions for adults about their sexual orientation and gender identity. These are the High School Longitudinal Study: 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, and the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) 2020/22. The collection of these data allows NCES to describe the experiences of gender and sexual minority individuals. For example:
Percentage of 2007–08 bachelor’s degree recipients who owned a home, had a retirement account, reported negative net worth, and did not meet essential expenses in the past 12 months, by gender minority status in 2018
NOTE: “Retirement account” includes both employer-based retirement accounts such as 401(k), 403(b), and pensions, and non-employer-based retirement accounts such as individual retirement accounts. Respondents are considered to have negative net worth if they would still be in debt after selling all their major possessions, turning all their investments and other assets into cash, and paying off as many debts as they could. “Did not meet essential expenses” refers to being unable to meet essential living expenses such as mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, or important medical care. “Past 12 months” refers to any of the 12 months preceding the interview. Gender minority indicates whether the respondent’s gender identity differed from the sex assigned at birth. 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.
1 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2019–20 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:20, preliminary data). 2 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. 3 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2008/18 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/18). 4 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–16 and 2017–18 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS).
SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). NCES Celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://nces.ed.gov/blogs/nces/post/nces-celebrates-lgbtq-pride-month.
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