Days before the nation’s 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the start of WorldPride in New York, a new study is measuring American attitudes toward LGBTQ people – and the results aren’t stellar.
On Monday, GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer media advocacy organization, announced the findings of its fifth annual Accelerating Acceptance Index. The national survey among U.S. adults was conducted on GLAAD’s behalf by The Harris Poll. The Index measures American attitudes toward LGBTQ people.
The percentage of non-LGBTQ adults reporting being “very” or “somewhat” comfortable with LGBTQ people across seven scenarios remained stable (49%) after a significant decline last year (49% “very” or “somewhat” comfortable in the 2018 report versus 53% in the 2017 report).
Importantly, however, this year’s Index found the number of young Americans ages 18-34 who are comfortable across all seven scenarios dropped from 53% to 45%, the second consecutive year that this age group has shown a drop.
The Index also comes amidst a number of high profile incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence, which GLAAD has documented here. Reported hate crimes in America rose 17%, the third consecutive year that such crimes increased, according to data released by the FBI in 2018.
The Accelerating Acceptance Index was conducted online earlier this year among a national sample of 1,970 US adults, 18 or over, who were presented with seven situations that were selected by GLAAD and The Williams Institute in 2015. They include: learning a family member is LGBTQ, learning my doctor is LGBTQ, having LGBTQ members at my place of worship, seeing a LGBTQ co-worker’s wedding picture, having my child placed in a class with a LGBTQ teacher, seeing a same-sex couple holding hands, and learning my child has a lesson on LGBTQ history in school.
By combining responses to these situations, the annual Index provides insight into the rate at which non-LGBTQ Americans accept LGBTQ people.
How Comfortable are Americans with LGBTQ People?
- This year, nearly half of non-LGBTQ adults (49%) are classified as ‘allies’ in the Index, meaning they responded that they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ comfortable with LGBTQ people across all of the seven situations. This is has not changed from the 49% reported in 2018, which was down from 53% the year prior.
- 38% of non-LGBTQ adults are classified as ‘detached supporters’, whose comfort levels varies across the seven scenarios. 13% are classified as ‘resisters’ and are not comfortable in any of the situations that were presented. The percentage of ‘resisters’ has been stable since the start of the Accelerating Acceptance Index.
- The only age group to post a decline this year was young Americans ages 18-34. The number of non-LGBTQ U.S. adults ages 18-34 who reported being ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ comfortable across all seven situations dropped from 53% to 45%. This reflects a continued erosion in comfort among this age group over the past two years. This year, the significant erosion is being driven by females ages 18-34, where comfort levels fell from 64% last year to 52% this year.
- In total, 18% of respondents report knowing a transgender person; 31% know a bisexual person; 75% know a gay or lesbian person.
Young People are More Uncomfortable with LGBTQ People in Personal Situations:
- More young people ages 18-34 responded that they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ uncomfortable in three personal scenarios including learning a family member is LGBTQ (36% uncomfortable in the 2019 report vs. 29% in the 2018 report); learning my doctor is LGBTQ (34% vs. 27%); and learning my child had a lesson on LGBTQ history in their school (39% vs. 30%).
- 43% of males ages 18-34 reported that they were uncomfortable learning a family member is LGBTQ (up from 32% in 2018) and 42% of males ages 18-34 reported that they were uncomfortable learning their child’s teacher is LGBTQ (up from 37% in 2018).
- 40% of females ages 18-34 reported that they were uncomfortable learning their child had a lesson on LGBTQ history in school, an increase of 13 percentage points from the previous year’s findings.
8 out of 10 Americans Support Equal Rights for LGBTQ People for Third Consecutive Year:
- GLAAD and The Harris Poll found that support for equal rights is stable. The majority of non-LGBTQ Americans (80%) support equal rights for the LGBTQ community. This particular statistic has been consistent since 2016.
- 12% of the survey reported to be LGBTQ. In order to be more inclusive than other surveys, GLAAD includes a more expansive number of sexual orientations and gender identities to select from.
“Last year, when we saw an erosion in LGBTQ acceptance, GLAAD doubled down on our formula for making positive culture change,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “The sharp and quick rise in divisive rhetoric both in politics and in culture is now having a negative influence on younger Americans and coinciding with an alarming pattern of anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, LGBTQ people and allies must urgently address today’s cultural crisis by being visible and vigilant.”
“We typically see in our surveys that younger Americans can be counted on to advocate for issues like gender equality, immigration, and climate change,” said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll. “So it is surprising to see a notable erosion of acceptance for the LTBTQ community, which counters many of the assumptions we make about their values and beliefs. In this toxic age, tolerance––even among youth––now seems to be parsed out. Nothing today should be taken for granted.”
Read the full report and learn more about the data collection methods here: glaad.org/acceptance.
Written by Sarah Toce, The New Civil Rights Movement. Image via NCRM