Question 6: Do you have any other organizations or resources I can look to for information and statistics on LGBT architects?

“I can give you the phone numbers to all the cute boys I kissed at the bar.”

When asking about statistics related to queer architects, that was the best response we received. Or at least the funniest. And as likely to produce any relative data.

Because the true answer to this question is “We don’t know.” Over half of the responses to this question were “No”, “I don’t know”, or blank. Most of those who did respond pointed us back to most of the organizations we shared in the “Resources (or Lack Thereof)” post in February.

In the 10 years since these questions were first posed, different organizations have collected bits and pieces about queer identity in the architecture field. For example, Equity by Design expanded their survey in 2018 to include sexual orientation. Yet even among the 14,000+ responses received, some individuals weren’t willing to answer that particular question.

And of the nearly 100,000 members in the American Institute of Architects, less than 1% self-identify as part of the queer community versus the roughly 8% of Americans that identify (Gallup 2024). Where is the other 7%?

Consequently, when searching for statistics on queer architects, we are mostly left scratching our heads, butts, or both. Yes, we have some data, but that’s a pretty shallow pool spread across multiple organizations and groups. Which translates into either not enough information to draw on or not enough in a single location. We even asked for demographic data as part of the survey that was the catalyst for the posts in Ten Years On. But again, what we can provide will be a very limited pool.

Although both AIA and NCARB have begun including demographic questions, past surveys from AIA skipped the questions entirely around queer identities. The fun part was getting to the end of the survey and filling in the comment box regarding the lack of questions about us. Just how uncomfortable can you make the team leading the survey?

Gensler’s 2020-2021 Diversity Report indicated that 7% of their US workforce identify as LGBTQ, a statistic in line with national polling at that time. We would guess if they were able to include their global workforce, that number would be higher. However, other countries place restrictions on what can be asked due to privacy concerns. For other employees, potentially outing themselves in an office survey could result in retribution by an unfriendly government or even by their own local firm leadership.

And we think there will always be a fear around being honest when answering survey questions around identity and orientation. No matter how anonymous, someone has your email. Someone has your data. What if that slips out to the wrong person? What if I unintentionally out myself in a conservative office? However, “what if” can become one of the challenges we face in gathering accurate data around the queer architecture community.

From the Pew Research article “5 Key findings about LGBTQ+ Americans”:

Survey researchersface several challenges in measuring LGBTQ+ identity. One is that there is no consensus about how best to measure sexual orientation. Some researchers rely on respondents self-identifying as LGBTQ+ (the technique used in surveys from Pew Research Center and Gallup), while others base their estimates on reports of sexual behavior or sexual attraction, which usually results in higher estimates. Other challenges include the stigmatization of identifying as LGBTQ+ in some cultures and respondents being unfamiliar with the terms used in surveys.”

Although there are challenges and difficulties – in general and in the architecture profession – additional research points to the importance of understanding why we need to have both data and understanding around the people who are part of the LGBTQIA+ communities and their needs. From how qualitative surveys are worded to the demographic data requested, as well as how to gather responses when LGBTQIA+ communities are stigmatized and not fully protected or safe from repercussions, there will continue to be both challenge as well as necessity.

“Demographic data can help provide a basis for understanding communities as they are now, where they’ve been and where they’re headed. It can be a powerful tool for tracking change over time and for uncovering the needs or strengths of a community to guide planning, policy development or decision making” (University of Wisconsin).

For future generations of queer architects, including those entering the profession now, being queer in school and in the profession will be nothing unusual. This is simply who they are. Will their openness in their identities push future Gallup numbers past the 8 percent? Will firms and the profession begin shifting policies to reflect the growing number of visible queer architects and their priorities? Will work benefits and environments change? And if so, then how?

Ten years from now, we hope when the question around resources, information, and statistics arises, queer architects will be able to answer yes; will be able to know where to find that data; and even better understand what the data means and its impact on their lives and careers.

However, to accomplish that, we need to examine what’s already been done and then do it better. We need to bring together all the current surveys, data, and their resulting analyses on queer design and the LGBTQIA+ communities in architecture. (We’re looking at you Queeries, Designing Beyond the Binary, Equity by Design, the Texas AIA LGBTQIA+ Alliances, and yes, even us.)

We must also start exploring the creation of a broad scale survey that will set a benchmark to help us understand areas of impact that the profession of architecture can have, both in built spaces and in workplace policies for architects and designers themselves, as it relates to LGBTQIA+ communities. If nothing else, just having the data can help us better understand ourselves as queer architects and where we fit within the profession.

Because ten years from now, although we will still enjoy the occasional sassy comment, we would like to have more information than just a bunch of cute boys’ phone numbers.