The 1969 Stonewall Riots marked the beginning of the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) activist movement, and since then, the community has become increasingly visible. However, there is currently a severe lack of concrete demographic information on this population, making it difficult for researchers and activists to understand it and evaluate its needs. One key area in which research is lacking is that of poverty and socioeconomic class. This study, then, was conducted in an attempt to help fill this gap of knowledge, specifically in regards to sexual identity (i.e., LGB people), to determine whether there was a significant difference in food security status between households headed by same-sex couples and those headed by heterosexual couples. I hypothesized that, due to the effect of sexual orientation discrimination on one’s choice-making capability, queer individuals would be more likely to be food insecure. This was then tested using a feminist econometric model and data from the 2014 Current Population Survey’s Food Security Supplement.

However, the results of this model directly contradicted the theory, and showed that queer people were actually less likely to be food insecure. Analyzing these results led me to the conclusion that the theory was sound, but it was the data which was inadequate, due to the subjectivity of self-identification and the relative social privilege required for individuals to have the capability to choose to come out, both of which contribute to the difficulty of creating a quantitative measure of sexual identity. This thesis, then, argues that before large-scale studies on the LGB community can even be conducted, data techniques must be improved so that an accurate and representative sample of queer people in a society can be obtained. From there, researchers and activists can move forward with this important work so that the needs of the LGB community can be assessed, thus allowing them to work towards rights, recognition, and equality.


Burnell, Barbara

Second Advisor

Craven, Christa


Economics; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Behavioral Economics | Civil Rights and Discrimination | Econometrics | Economic Theory | Food Security | Gender and Sexuality | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Politics and Social Change


LGBT, discrimination, choice, intersectionality, U.S. Census, activism

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Emily C. Hrovat