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ctrl+alt+lgbt: LGBT Tech Releases Groundbreaking Survey on Digital Lives of LGBTQ+ Adults

Author: Shae Gardner

 

In this era where technology is synonymous with participation in modern life, connectivity serves as an indispensable resource for everyone - but holds particular significance for those in the LGBTQ+ community. For many LGBTQ+ individuals, the online world is more than just a tool for convenience—it serves as a vital lifeline that supports their daily existence and offers a unique space to connect, express themselves, and access critical services.


While there are a number of publicly available studies touching on various aspects of LGBTQ+ life, none delve deeply into the digital experiences, access patterns, and online challenges faced by members of the communities. Recognizing the profound impact of digital access, we at LGBT Tech undertook a comprehensive research effort to fill this gap. Conducted in partnership with Data for Progress, our groundbreaking survey involved more than 1,300 LGBTQ+ adults across the United States, to provide a robust and nuanced understanding of how our community navigates the digital landscape.


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Connectivity & Devices: The Digital Pulse of the LGBTQ+ Community


Connectivity and the devices that provide it are fundamental to the daily lives of LGBTQ+ adults.


Internet & Device Usage. An overwhelming majority of LGBTQ+ adults (96%) use the internet at least once a day, demonstrating a strong reliance on digital connectivity. Among the devices used to access the internet, smartphones are the most common (93%), followed by laptop computers (69%), tablets (44%), and desktop computers (37%).


Home Internet Access. The vast majority of LGBTQ+ households (89%) subscribe to an internet service provider, highlighting the essential nature of home internet connectivity. Within these households, cable internet is the most frequently used service (63%). Notably, younger LGBTQ+ adults aged 18-24 are twice as likely to use fixed wireless providers (35%) compared to the overall LGBTQ+ population (17%).


Public Internet Access. Public spaces are essential for LGBTQ+ adults seeking internet access outside their homes, and LGBTQ+ community centers are particularly vital. Nearly half (45%) of LGBTQ+ adults have relied on these centers for internet access - 67% of transgender adults, 64% of Black LGBTQ+ adults, and 63% of Latine LGBTQ+ adults. These spaces not only provide connectivity but also a sense of community and support.



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Digital Access: An Entry to Vital Services


From healthcare and education to employment opportunities, digital access has proven a key enabler of equity and inclusion for LGBTQ+ adults.


Healthcare Access. Online platforms offer LGBTQ+ individuals the ability to seek health information discreetly, access telehealth services, and find LGBTQ+-friendly healthcare providers. This is especially important in areas where LGBTQ+ individuals might face discrimination or lack specialized healthcare services. In fact, 87% of LGBTQ+ adults search for health information online, 61% access telehealth services, and 44% use the internet to find LGBTQ+-friendly healthcare providers.


Educational Opportunities. Connectivity provides access to a wealth of educational resources, from online courses and skill development programs to digital libraries and support services. This democratization of education helps LGBTQ+ individuals enhance their knowledge and skills, leading to better economic opportunities and personal growth. More than 70% of LGBTQ+ adults engage in online courses or skill development, and 71% use e-books or digital libraries.


Employment Resources. Job searching, professional networking, and skill development are increasingly conducted online. For LGBTQ+ individuals, who disproportionately face workplace discrimination, the internet offers a platform to find inclusive employers and opportunities that align with their identities and values. A significant 78% of LGBTQ+ adults use the internet to search for jobs and applications, 62% for professional skill development, and 60% for professional networking.




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Online Spaces: Safe Havens for Exploration & Expression


Despite the potential for harassment and misinformation, online spaces remain some of the safest environments for LGBTQ+ individuals to explore and express their identities, allowing individuals to engage with communities and resources without exposing themselves to more immediate physical threats.


Identity and Self-Expression. Online platforms have a profound impact on the identity and self-expression of LGBTQ+ individuals. Many report that these spaces have significantly influenced their understanding and acceptance of their LGBTQ+ identity. This is particularly true for transgender individuals (90%) and younger LGBTQ+ adults (87%), who find these digital environments crucial for their personal development and self-discovery. Overall, 74% of LGBTQ+ adults say online spaces have had a significant impact on their LGBTQ+ identity.


Social Connectivity. Social media and other online platforms are crucial for building and maintaining connections. For many LGBTQ+ individuals, these platforms are where they first explore their identities, find community support, and stay informed about issues affecting their lives. Nearly 80% of LGBTQ+ adults use social networking platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or X (formerly Twitter), and 78% use video streaming platforms like YouTube or Twitch.


Community and Support. The internet offers a unique opportunity to build and engage with supportive communities. LGBTQ+ individuals can find groups and forums dedicated to various aspects of their identities and interests, providing a sense of belonging and solidarity. These communities are vital for mental health, offering a space where individuals can share their experiences, seek advice, and receive emotional support. For instance, 69% of LGBTQ+ adults are open about their sexual orientation or gender identity to most or all of their online community, and this figure rises to 82% among transgender adults.




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Our comprehensive survey highlights the critical role that digital access and online spaces play in the lives of LGBTQ+ adults. In the face of significant social, economic, and health disparities, including pervasive discrimination and high rates of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, LGBTQ+ individuals rely heavily on the internet for essential services and community support. By supporting digital access and fostering safe online environments, we can help LGBTQ+ individuals thrive and fully participate in all aspects of modern life.


We hope this survey is just the beginning of a larger, more in-depth, and sustained research effort to better understand the online needs of the LGBTQ+ community. The insights gathered here are invaluable, but there is always more to learn. We invite everyone to delve into the full report, provide feedback, and join us as we continue to advocate for a more inclusive and equitable digital world for all.

 

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You can access the full text of the report here, along with a visual one-pager/ infographic outlining key findings here.



ctrl+alt+lgbt - Key Findings
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