Nearly 40% of students at Brown University identify as LGBTQ+ — doubling what it was in 2010


The number of Brown University students identifying as LGBTQ+ has doubled since 2010, according to a new poll from the university's student paper.

About 38% of students at the Ivy League school identified as either homosexual, bisexual, queer, asexual, pansexual, questioning, or other — more than five times the national rate for adults not identifying as straight.

A similar poll conducted at the school just over 10 years ago found that 14% of the student body identified as being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

The poll was conducted by The Brown Daily Herald, an independent student newspaper at the Rhode Island school, and released in June as a part of a Pride Month special issue.


It is unclear how many students were polled in the survey. As of fall 2022, Brown had an undergraduate enrollment of 7,222 students and another 3,515 in its graduate and medical programs.

The Herald could not be reached for comment, and the university declined to comment citing the paper's independence from the school.

About 7.2% of American adults identified as being non-heterosexual, according to a 2022 Gallup poll, up from 3.5% in 2012.


Since The Herald first conducted a survey of sexual orientation on campus in 2010, Brown students identifying as lesbian and gay dropped by more than half from 46 to 22%. About 19% of that group were college-aged members of Generation Z.

The number of students identifying with other groups, however, soared: bisexual students increased by 232%, and other LGBTQ+ groups rose by a collective 793%, The Herald found.

Of the LGBTQ+ respondents, the most common orientation was bisexual at 53.7%.

Josephine Kovecses, a member of the class of '25, told The Herald she thought those numbers were driven by broadening social norms in recent years.


"Queer people haven't been able to be open in their identifications for that long. So it's exciting that the numbers are growing and that queer people are able to be open in particular at Brown," Kovecses said.

The Herald's own poll question options over the years mirrored that viewpoint.

In 2010, students were given only heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and other as orientations to choose from. It wasn't until spring 2022 that queer, pansexual, asexual, and questioning, were added to the survey.


Some have argued that the soaring number of LGBTQ+ students at Brown is an example of a "social contagion" at a famously left-leaning school.

"There are two theories, that greater tolerance is allowing more to come out of the closet, or Bill Maher's assertion that LGBT is trendy among some youth," professor of political science at the University of London Eric Kauffman told The Fix in June.

"I think the second theory better fits the data and explains more of why the rise occurred."

Citing data from the right-leaning Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, Kauffman said LGBTQ+ identification has increased much more than sexual activity in those groups.


"If this was about people feeling able to come out, then we should have seen these two trends rise together," he said. 

"What we find instead is that 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."

Others, including Sharita Gruberg of the LGBTQI+ Research and Communications Project with the Center for American Progress, agree with Kovecses that the environment of greater awareness that Gen-Z was raised in has driven the numbers.

"Gen Z has grown up at a time when stigma around LGBTQ identities is on the decline and rights are expanding," Grunberg said in 2022 after Gallup released its findings, according to CNN.

"As greater awareness about the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities grows, and as stigma surrounding LGBTQ identity lessens, we're likely to see more people self-identify as LGBTQ."



news flash