Respect Equality

70 percent of LGBTQ+ Americans report regular discrimination, annual GLAAD study finds

That’s up 11 percent over last year, when a still-staggering 59 percent of LGBTQ+ people said they experienced discrimination in their daily lives.
In this Oct. 8, 2019 file photo, supporters of LGBTQ rights stage a protest on the street in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta,File)

Story at a glance

  • A majority of LGBTQ+ Americans say they often experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, according to a new report from GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization.

  • More than half of transgender and nonbinary people report feeling unsafe in their own neighborhoods, compared with 36 percent of LGBTQ+ people overall, according to the report.

  • Close to 80 percent of LGBTQ+ people believe more federal legislation is needed to protect them.

A substantial majority of LGBTQ+ people in America say the discrimination they face has increased over the last two years, according to new research from the LGBTQ+ media advocacy group GLAAD.

Seven in 10 LGBTQ+ respondents in GLAAD’s eighth annual Accelerating Acceptance Study reported experiencing discrimination in their day-to-day lives, including in interactions with family or community members, at work, on social media and while accessing public accommodations.

That’s up 11 percent from last year’s report, which found 59 percent of LGBTQ+ people experienced regular discrimination, and up 24 percent from 2020.

Sarah Kate Ellis, the organization’s chief executive, in a statement on Wednesday said she believed the findings were “distressing, but not surprising.”

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“Legislation targeting LGBTQ people and youth, including censorship in classrooms, book bans, bans on evidence-based healthcare and access to school sports, has ballooned since 2020 to nearly 250 bills introduced in statehouses across the nation,” Ellis said.

Some of those measures have already become law. In Florida, the Parental Rights in Education law — known to its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law — is set to take effect July 1. Under the law, touted by the state’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis as a way to combat “indoctrination” in schools, educators will be restricted from addressing sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.

In at least 10 states this year, transgender athletes — in most cases, transgender women and girls — have been barred from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity, with those in favor of such measures arguing that they are necessary to maintain fairness in women’s sports.

Bans on gender-affirming care have been enacted in Alabama and Arizona, and lawmakers in Texas, whose legislature meets next year, have said some forms of gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth, like puberty blockers and hormone therapy, should be considered “child abuse.”

In the case of Alabama and Texas, researchers at Yale University and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSMC) recently concluded that the scientific evidence used to justify both measures is deeply flawed — and intentionally misleading.

“Misinformation and false rhetoric from anti-LGBTQ lawmakers has real life consequences,” Ellis said Wednesday, “and gives a permission slip to discriminate against LGBTQ people and target them.”

Ellis referenced a recent incident at an Idaho Pride event, where 31 members of the Patriot Front, a white supremacist group, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to riot. Ellis also drew attention to the “manifesto” of the suspected Buffalo supermarket shooter, which claims that transgender people are mentally ill.

According to the GLAAD study, more than half of transgender and nonbinary people report feeling unsafe in their own neighborhoods, compared with 36 percent of LGBTQ+ people overall.

Disproportionate rates of discrimination were also reported by LGBTQ+ people of color, who reported feeling the compounded effects of discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and their race or ethnicity.

“Every LGBTQ person and ally must use this information to speak up and hold elected officials, news media, and social media platforms accountable to actions and rhetoric that make everyone less safe,” Ellis said Wednesday.

Nearly 80 percent of LGBTQ+ people believe more federal legislation is needed to protect them, according to the GLAAD study, which used data from two separate surveys that were conducted earlier this year.

GLAAD also surveyed non-LGBTQ+ people about their “comfortability” with LGBTQ+ people. Similarly to last year, about 1 in 3 non-LGBTQ+ respondents said they are or would be “somewhat” to “very” uncomfortable if they learned that one of their family members is LGBTQ+.

Another 28 percent of non-LGBTQ+ people said they would feel discomfort if they discovered their physician is LGBTQ+, unchanged from 2020, and 27 percent said they would be uncomfortable with LGBTQ+ people in their place of worship, up just slightly from 26 percent in 2020.

An overwhelming majority of non-LGBTQ+ respondents (78 percent) still associate the term “LGBTQ” with being mostly about sexual orientation, according to GLAAD, overlooking gender identity and expression.

About 75 percent of LGBTQ+ people in the GLAAD report said visibility is “essential to equality and acceptance.” Close to two-thirds said representation in media is particularly important and feel “proud and supported” when they consume or interact with LGBTQ+ inclusive media.