LGBTQ+ elected officials have tripled since 2017 but are still underrepresented

LGBTQ+ elected officials have tripled since 2017 but are still underrepresented
FILE - In this March 31, 2016, file photo, gay-rights supporter Mathew "Skippy" Mauldin holds a flag during a gay rights rally outside the Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo. A Republican Missouri lawmaker says he has a solution to end tense debates over same-sex marriage. Rep. T.J. Berry wants to take government out of marriage and leave it to houses of worship by classifying such legal partnerships as domestic unions. Photo: (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

In the last seven years, the number of LGBTQ+ elected officials in the United States has increased by nearly 200%, according to a recent report by the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute.

Significantly, the report also found that every state and D.C. has at least one openly queer elected official. “LGBTQ people are running in historic numbers right now, and we are winning,” Elliot Imse, the executive director of the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute, told NBC News.

The research found that as of this May, there are 1,303 out LGBTQ elected officials. This is a 10% increase from 1,185 officials last year and a 190.8% increase from the 448 out officials in 2017.

However, the number of trans elected officials decreased by 6%, from 50 to 47, the first decrease since the organization began tracking in 2017. Nonbinary elected officials increased by 69.6%, with 39 individuals in office.

More queer and trans people of color are running and winning elected office, the report also found. LGBTQ+ elected officials of color increased by 17% percent.

Despite the increase, LGBTQ+ people are still “severely underrepresented at nearly every level of government and in nearly every public position in the United States.”

The report said that states, territories, and the District of Columbia must elect 338 more LGBTQ+ state legislators for equitable representation. They also found that hundreds more mayors and 16,000 local officials must be elected for equitable representation.

March Gallup poll found that 7.6% of the U.S. population is LGBTQ+. The LGBTQ+ Victory Institute says that there are 519,682 U.S. elected positions, and to achieve equitable representation, 39,496 LGBTQ+ people would need to be elected.

“Despite the historic news of having an LGBTQ+ elected official in every state and DC, we must remember just how important this year is for our candidates, elected officials, and our democracy,” said Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ+ Victory Institute, “We know we still have a long way to go. The battles over bodily freedom and autonomy happening in school boards, state capitols, and even our federal government demand all of us to work even harder to get more LGBTQ+ people elected nationwide.”

The report comes at a time when legislation targeting the queer community, especially trans youth, has increased greatly. The Human Rights Campaign found that as of May 23, 2024, over 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures.

Many of these try to restrict gender-affirming care for trans youth. South Carolina recently became the 25th state to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth, meaning in half of the country, trans youth cannot get access to the care they need.

“What happens through November and beyond is critical to building an America that truly represents all of us and a call to many more in our community to run for elected office and help shape our future,” Parker said.

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