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How many LGBT Jews are there?

This page was prepared by Gregg Drinkwater in partnership between Keshet and the San Francisco based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

How many LGBT Jews are there?

  • At least 7% of American Jews (just under 500,000) identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). We have very limited quantitative data on transgender Jews.
  • 31% of LGB respondents to a large 2007 national Jewish survey were partnered or married.
  • Interfaith relationships are the norm. The same survey found only 11% of LGB Jews partnered with other Jews (roughly one third of those LGB Jews who reported being partnered). [1]

National comparisons of Jewish engagement

TYPE OF ENGAGEMENT LGB JEWS HETEROSEXUAL JEWS
Synagogue members 16% 39%
Federation donors 16% 37%
Volunteer for Jewish orgs 10% 27%
Most friends are Jewish 6% 35%

Synagogues and LGBT Jews

  • 73% of rabbis think they already do a good or excellent job welcoming lesbian and gay (LG) people, but only 33% report any specific programs or events about LG topics or targeting LG congregants. In interviews, LG Jews note that they look for such programs as signals of inclusion.
  • 52% of Reconstructionist, 40% of Reform and 22% of Conservative congregations report having openly lesbian and gay congregants.
  • 47% of rabbis say that their views on LG issues have become more favorable compared to a decade ago — the bulk of the rest felt their views had already been positive and had not changed.
  • 36% of rabbis noted that they know little about transgender people, issues and needs. [2]

The continuum of inclusion: A typology for categorizing Jewish institutions

  • WELCOMING AND/OR INCLUSIVE:We are you.” – LGBT Jews are visible and recognized as members and leaders, and are affirmed as LGBT Jews. LGBT couples and families are celebrated;
  • TOLERANT: Assertion that the institution is “welcoming of everyone” and treats everyone the same. Resistant to affirming or highlighting LGBT people and/or pro-actively talking about how LGBT people’s communal, pastoral or spiritual needs may differ from heterosexual counterparts;
  • INVISIBLE: “We don’t have that issue here.” – Agency leaders feel LGBT inclusion is not relevant;
  • UNWELCOMING: “We don’t want LGBT people.”

 

Many Jewish institutions and leaders think they are more inclusive than LGBT constituents and members report them to be. [3]

 


[1] “Gay, Jewish, or Both? Sexual Orientation and Jewish Engagement,” Journal of Jewish Communal Service, Vol. 84, No. ½, Winter/Spring 2009, Profs. Steven M. Cohen, Caryn Aviv and Ari Y. Kelman
[2] Welcoming Synagogues Project: Results from the 2009 Synagogue Survey on Diversity and LGBT Inclusion, The Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at Hebrew Union College-JIR and Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, Dr. Caryn Aviv, Dr. Steven M. Cohen, Dr. Judith Veinstein
[3] We Are You: An Exploration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Colorado’s Jewish Community, Dr. Caryn Aviv, Gregg Drinkwater and Dr. David Shneer, Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, 2006 (NOTE: Jewish Mosaic and Keshet merged in July, 2010)
 

One response to “How many LGBT Jews are there?

  1. Anonymous

    September 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    If Colfax is an example of your ‘community’…is it a joke! Scre..ed my children out of a college education.

     

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