More than a third of the students at Brown University do not identify as straight, a recent poll on sexual orientation shows.
The Brown Daily Herald, the Rhode Island-based university’s student newspaper, reported that “LGBTQ+ student self-identification” has doubled since 2010, as shown in its semesterly survey for spring 2023.
Thirty-eight percent of respondents did not identify as straight and within this group, 22.9% reported being gay or lesbian, while 53.7% described themselves as bisexual, the report said.
The student newspaper explained that it first surveyed sexual orientation in the fall of 2010 and, in recent semesters, has expanded the number of options in recent surveys “to better represent the Brown community.” Additions include “Queer,” “Pansexual,” “Asexual” and “Questioning/Unsure.”
With the inclusion of more options, The Brown Daily Herald said the number of respondents who self-identified as gay or lesbian within the subgroup has dropped from 46% in its fall 2010 survey. The publication also said students were “more likely to identify with a more diverse range of sexual orientations besides homosexual and bisexual in recent years.”
While some have said that students feel more comfortable about coming out, others argue social pressures fuel the rise in LGBTQ+ identification.
“There are two theories, that greater tolerance is allowing more to come out of the closet, or [liberal comedian] Bill Maher’s assertion that LGBT is trendy among some youth,” Eric Kaufmann, a professor at the University of London, told the College Fix last year.
Kaufmann said he believes the second theory is a better fit for the data, as shown in a report he did as a research fellow for the right-leaning Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology. “Identity is rising much faster than behavior, indicating that people with occasional rather than sustained feelings of attraction to the opposite sex are increasingly identifying as LGBT,” he said.
The latest survey of Brown University students follows a report last year by Gallup, which found that “LGBT identification” has risen over the past decade across the United States. That survey found 7.2% of U.S. adults reported being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or something other than heterosexual. Roughly a fifth of the 19-25 age group, aka adult members of Generation Z, identified as members of the LGBTQ+ community.