We’re Gayer And More Homophobic Than We Think

That’s what Cass Sunstein concludes after looking at new research:

When people are assured of anonymity, it turns out, a lot more of them will acknowledge that they have had same-sex experiences and that they don’t entirely identify as heterosexual. But it also turns out that when people are assured of anonymity, they will show significantly higher rates of anti-gay sentiment. These results suggest that recent surveys have been understating, at least to some degree, two different things: the current level of same-sex activity and the current level of opposition to gay rights.

Consider one study of 2,500 people involving a standard “best practices” survey and an anonymous “veiled” survey:

In the best practices survey, 11 percent of the population said that they didn’t consider themselves to be heterosexual. In the veiled report, that number jumped to almost 19 percent – an increase of 65 percent.

Did participants believe that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation should be illegal? In the standard survey, only about 14 percent said no. That number increased to 25 percent in the veiled report.

In best practices, only 16 percent of participants said they would be uncomfortable having a manager at work who was lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT for short). The number jumped to 27 percent in the veiled report.

However, there’s one more reason to think the kids are fine:

The effect of assuring anonymity varied significantly across demographic groups. The veiled survey had no effect on the answers of young people to questions about their sexual orientation, apparently because social norms don’t much discourage young people from revealing the truth.