Measurement opportunities for studying sexual and gender diverse partnerships in population-based surveys

Christopher A. Julian, Wendy D. Manning, Claire M. Kamp Dush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This article outlines for family scholars and researchers designing surveys or searching for data on sexual and gender-diverse (SGD) families the latest methodological advancements in United States population-based surveys for studying SGD partnerships by reviewing five recently collected, publicly available, population-representative data sets. Background: LGBTQIA+ adults and SGD partnerships are an expanding demographic group in the United States. Yet, measurement limitations have restricted studies of these partnerships that use population-based studies. To address this issue, researchers designing population-representative data collections have adopted new strategies to measure SGD partnerships accurately. However, most population representative surveys continue to lack data on growing segments of the LGBTQIA+ population by relying solely on the sex of partners or limited sexual and gender identity measures. Conclusion: We recommend expanding population-based surveys to incorporate inclusive measures of sexual and gender identity, directly asking about the gender composition of a couple and measurement of cohabiting and other nonmarital relationships. These approaches are especially important for understanding relationships among younger populations who do not follow heteronormative relationship trajectories and hold diverse gender and sexual identities. Implications: Although the research opportunities on SGD individuals and partnerships are expanding; researchers must remain mindful of the limitations of current data sets and advocate for updates to the United States population data infrastructure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Journal of Marriage and Family published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Council on Family Relations.


  • cohabitation
  • gender
  • marriage
  • measurement
  • sexuality


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