Starting to Review the Pew Research Center’s Survey of LGBT People

On Thursday the Pew Research Center released their findings from a survey of 1,197 LGBT people.  I’m currently looking over it, as it’s not exactly a short document.  However, I wanted to share a few points from he summary and my observations.  One of the opening statements in the release has to do with how LGBT feels about societal acceptance:

An overwhelming share of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults (92%) say society has become more accepting of them in the past decade and an equal number expect it to grow even more accepting in the decade ahead. They attribute the changes to a variety of factors, from people knowing and interacting with someone who is LGBT, to advocacy on their behalf by high-profile public figures, to LGBT adults raising families.

At the same time, however, a new nationally representative survey of 1,197 LGBT adults offers testimony to the many ways they feel they have been stigmatized by society. About four-in-ten (39%) say that at some point in their lives they were rejected by a family member or close friend because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; 30% say they have been physically attacked or threatened; 29% say they have been made to feel unwelcome in a place of worship; and 21% say they have been treated unfairly by an employer. About six-in-ten (58%) say they’ve been the target of slurs or jokes.

While the text of the summary does not include this information, the graphs accompanying it break down the percentage of LGBT respondents who reported facing each form of bigotry in the last year:

  • Been subjected to slurs or jokes:  16
  • Been rejected by a friend or family member: 6
  • Been threatened or physically attacked: 4
  • Been made to feel unwelcome in a place of worship: 6
  • Received poor service in a restaurant, hotel, or place of business: 5
  • Been treated unfairly by an employer:  5

I think some of these figures are quite telling when compared to the percentage of LGBT people who have experienced these things ever in their life.  For example, of the 21% of all LGBT people who reported being treated by an employer, nearly one fourth of them say that this happened in the last year.  I’m curious how the experiences of the other 16% would map out on a timeline.

I also think that this underscores why ENDA and hate crimes legislation that protect LGBT people are so important.  People who claim that violence and discrimination against LGBT people are a thing of the past need to be directed to surveys like this.

Speaking of legal protections, I found the commentary regarding marriage equality and other LGBT issues worth noting:

Despite nearly universal support for same-sex marriage among LGBT adults, a significant minority of that population—39%—say that the issue has drawn too much attention away from other issues that are important to people who are LGBT. However, 58% say it should be the top priority even if it takes attention away from other issues.

Personally, I’d like to see that significant minority to gain more traction.  The other issues mentioned in that paragraph — as well as healthcare coverage for trans* people, which are mentioned later — are of great importance as well.  And I tend to think that some of them are things that many who are in charge (and I’m thinking of myself and my fellow cis white gay men who are financially secure) tend not to have to worry about and/or can take for granted.

I’ll hopefully have more to say as I digest the rest of the findings over the next few days.

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