Baker-Hughes, Sharon Wiederstein (2019-08). Sexual Minority Status: A Call for Standard Measures. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • This study is an analysis of the scientific knowledge of sexuality research in demography. Holding a sexual majority status theoretically provides advantages to individuals who claim it. Sexual minority status, on the other hand, potentially subjects people to discrimination, harassment, and harm if disclosed. The analyses contained in this study highlight and reinforce the key role that theory plays in guiding both the variables studied in demographic research, as well as the analytical methods employed. This project serves as a building block for a coherent, systematic body of knowledge dealing with the measurement, collection, and analysis of information about sexual minority status on life outcomes. I analyzed the GSS, NHANES, NHIS, and NSFG, both female and male Examination Survey, to evaluate five hypotheses. First, using more inclusive measures of sexual minority status, rather than the traditional lesbian, gay, and bisexual options resulted in identifying more people with sexual minority status. Secondly, I tested both logit and linear regression models to determine whether the theoretically superior (logit) model was sufficiently different to warrant its use as the standard of analysis. My results show clearly that logit regression should be used when the dependent variables are dichotomous. Thirdly, I tested the model fit of various combinations of measures. Consistently, the trifecta of sexuality measures provides the best model fit for examining outcomes. My last two hypothesis dealt with sex specific effects. While consistent patterns did not develop, it is clear that outcomes are differentially affected by sex. Future research should incorporate the trifecta of sexual minority status with other demographic measures in all data sets, not just ones focused on health. Sexuality is as relevant as other demographic characteristics in understanding population actors and demographic outcomes and good measurement techniques are essential to keeping demography at the forefront of information on which policy makers and the general public rely to make informed decisions. Just as modern demographers would never consider completing a study which did not include measures for race, ethnicity, sex, and age, we should do the same with measures of sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and self-identity.

publication date

  • August 2019