146,000 Chicago adults identify as LGBTQ: city study

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People celebrate the 48th annual Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday. | Getty Images

Chicago is home to 146,000 adults who identify as LGBT, according to a new report from the city’s health department.

In what it describes as “the first-ever population estimate and demographic profile for all LGBT adults,” the Chicago Department of Public Health estimates 7.5 percent of Chicago’s adult population identifies as such.

“We know that the only way to ensure a greater quality of life and access to services for LGBT individuals is to better understand the size of, and opportunities and challenges specific to, Chicago’s LGBT community,” CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita said in a statement. “This report is a first step, giving providers, elected officials and community leaders a deeper understanding of Chicago’s LGBT population so we can in turn help better strengthen the community.”

The study combined analysis from two sources: a Youth Risk Behavior Survey randomly given to CPS high schoolers and the random telephone Healthy Chicago Survey aimed at Chicago adults.

The estimates found that 138,000 adults identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual while 10,500 identify as transgender. (Some adults fall into both groups.)

The numbers only include “self-identified” LGBTQ Chicagoans.

“We expect the actual number to be even higher,” said Brian Richardson, first deputy commissioner of the public health department.

The report also concludes:

Lesbian and bisexual females are more likely to be smokers than heterosexual females.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are less likely to go to the doctor.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are more likely to be physically forced to have sex.

Gay men are more likely to have had HIV testing and have met colorectal cancer screening guidelines.

Hector Torres, chief program officer at the LGBTQ-focused Center on Halsted, said the report was “validating to read.”

“We are in the age of data. Nearly everything Center on Halsted does must be supported through data, both in terms of justifying our programs and in proving that the program met its goal,” Torres said. “This report will be a vital instrument in explaining the need for the services offered by Center on Halsted.”

Read the report here.

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