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After Correction, Kentucky Falls From #1 Gayest State to Bottom of the Barrel

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

A report from the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute astonishingly ranked Kansas as the nation's leading state in terms of openly LGBTQ+ population. Then came the correction.

The Courier Journal reported that in a "correction and apology issued on X, formerly Twitter, Brad Sears, founding director of the institute, said, 'We made a mistake, and we apologize to Kentucky and to you.'"

"We are grateful to you, our followers, and journalists who have questioned and celebrated the Kentucky estimate over the past two days," the institute's post added. "We especially thank the follower who drew our attention to the CDC correction."

What went wrong? The newspaper noted that, according to Sears' post, "the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data used was updated in July 2023, an update that was missed by the school."

The corrected numbers make much more intuitive sense than the initial claim that Kentucky has more openly LGBTQ+ people living within its borders than any other state.

The Courier Journal's report relayed that "It turns out that the percentage of gay adults living in Kentucky is 4.9%, which is below the national average of 5.6% and puts the commonwealth in a tie for 43rd."

The true top of the heap isn't even a state, but rather Washington, D.C., which, the newspaper said, "has 14.3% of adults identifying as LGBT..."

Meanwhile, "Oregon takes the top state ranking with 7.8% identifying as LGBT," the article detailed.

On the other end of the spectrum, and ranking even lower than Kentucky, are "West Virginia and Mississippi," which "rank the lowest with 4.1% identifying as LGBT," the report went on to add.

"We want to get the data right so that law and policy can accurately reflect the LGBT community as it is, not as anyone assumes it might be," the article quoted Sears' post.

Such errors are not unknown, but the scientific method is less about avoiding mistakes than correcting them once they are discovered and adapting to updated, more accurate information.

"On a few occasions, we have had to make corrections like this," Sears said. "We will continue to do so as swiftly and transparently as we can."

The study also broke down LGBTQ+ demographics according to age, verifying once again that younger Americans are much more upfront about their sexual orientations and gender identities, and more comfortable openly identifying as LGBTQ+, than their more senior counterparts.

The study found that the 18-24 age range cohort far outstripped the 25-34 age range, with 15.4% of the former self-identifying as LGBTQ+, while only 9.2% of the latter were out and open.

The numbers fell further with each older age bracket: Only 4.2% of those aged 35-49 were openly LGBTQ+, while a mere 2.8% of people in the 50-64 demographic were out. The pattern held true with those over 65, where only 1.8% were openly LGBTQ+.

EDGE previously reported on the erroneous rankings, before the mistake was discovered and the correction issued.

Looking not at percentage of population, but rather overall total numbers, California ranks top among states for LGBTQ+ residents with 1.46 million openly LGBTQ+ residents – and Texas comes in at number two, with 1.07 million.

Nationally, the report stated, there are 14.1 million openly LGBTQ+ people in the United States, comprising 5.6% of the nation's population.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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