A New Study Says Gay Men Are More Likely to Have Academic Degrees Than Straight Men

A New Study Says Gay Men Are More Likely to Have Academic Degrees Than Straight Men

Joel Mittleman, Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Notre Dame, Indiana, found that around 52% of gay men in the U.S. have a bachelor’s degree, which is 16 percentage points higher than the national average. He also found that 6% of gay men have a higher degree, which is 50% higher than the national average.

A new study finds sexuality a core dimension of educational stratification in America, and specifically the relatively high rate of gay men having academic degrees. “Boys’ well-documented underperformance in academics obscures one group with remarkably high levels of school success: gay boys,” writes Joel Mittleman, who conducted the study.

The Assistant Professor, who studies inequality with a focus on LGBTQ populations, analyzed how sexuality stratifies bachelor’s degree (BA) attainment among American adults, attending to variation by sex, race/ethnicity and birth cohort. He then complemented these population-level analyses with a more granular examination

of contemporary L.G.B students’ experiences during and after high school. Finally, he tested whether L.G.B women and men’s disparate academic outcomes reflect their distinct positions within a spectrum of masculinity/femininity.

The results showed that gay men’s academic successes especially stand out. In every dataset and across every level of educational attainment, gay men surpass all other groups. This remained the case across White, Black, Hispanic and Asian racial groups.

Among Black men, Hispanic men and Asian men, gay men consistently surpass straight men by double digit margins.

Why More Gay Men Have Academic Degrees

Mittleman explored the reasons why boys generally don’t shine in school. He points to evidence that some young men perceive working hard as “gay”. Other boys dismiss academic effort and “valorize school-related rebellion” instead.

Gay boys tend to immerse themselves in school studies in order to avoid the uncomfortableness of that masculinity. In addition, we’re overcompensating to prove our worth. In other words, while everything else goes wrong in our teenage years, at least we can try to get good grades.

Mittleman says sexuality has been largely invisible as a population-level axis of academic inequality. “As questions of gender and school success continue to shape American life in the years to come, this study provides new reasons for sociologists to heed a lesson long taught by queer 45 theorists: that any analysis of gender is incomplete without an analysis of sexuality,” Mittleman concludes. “By making the margins of the academic gender order visible, LGB students allow us to see the spectrum of academic performance in a new light. Incorporating sexuality into the study of educational stratification, we find the persistent penalties for women who defy the dictates of hegemonic femininity and the tremendous possibilities for men outside the confines of hegemonic masculinity.”