June is Gay Pride Month in many U.S. cities. It demonstrates solidarity for the LGBTQIA+ population and its allies as well as advances in LGBT+acceptance since the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, believed to be the start of the gay civil rights movement.
However, according to GLAAD, the main organization that focuses on LGBT+ discrimination in the media, it found setbacks in this year’s national survey, conducted by The Harris Poll. In this survey, Americans are asked to examine their minds and hearts when it comes to accepting LGBTQ+ people. Nearly 1,800 adults were asked to rate their position on a scale of very uncomfortable to comfortable, to prompted situations such as having LGBT members at their place of worship, learning a family member is LGBT, and learning that my child has a lesson on LGBT history in school.
The findings of this sixth Annual survey were:
- 6 in 10 LGBTQIA+ respondents report discrimination.
- 80% of Americans surveyed said they knew someone who identified as LGBTQ+.
- Although people understand that the LGBTQ community is made up of several genders, approximately 1/2 of non-LGBTQ people find conversations re: gender identity and LGBT community complicated or confusing.
- Generation Z (ages 18-34),with the highest number of non-binary adults, reported being less comfortable around LGBTQ people in certain personal situations. 66% Generation Z are more fearful for their personal safety in 2022 than in prior two years, up from 59% in 2021 and 46% in 2020. Of the groups surveys, young people were the only demographic to show such a sharp decline in acceptance.
- In 4 of 7 scenarios, the Z generation reported feeling substantially more uncomfortable in the following areas: learning my child had a lesson on LGBT history in their school ( a 9% rise), learning a family member or doctor is LGBT ( 7% rise), and having a child placed in a class with an LGBT teacher ( a 4% rise).
- The survey differentiates among three groups: allies, detached supporters, and resisters. Allies were classified as respondents who were comfortable in all situations; those whose comfort levels shifted, dependent on situations as detached supporters. Resisters are consistently uncomfortable with LGBTQ people and have remained consistent at between 13-14% for all five years. Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, says it’s common to see people move from allied position to become detached supporters.
What’s going on? Is it due to the 300 anti-LGBT+ bills (particularly against the trans community) introduced by lawmakers? Criticism of what you can’t understand? Suspicion of any minority group? Too many splinter groups with definitions for sexual orientation and gender identity? You can be fired in over half of U.S. states or denied housing if you are LGBT+. Public policy is stalled.
What will GLAAD and other organizations do with this tracking of American’s attitudes towards LGBTQA+ hypothetical daily scenarios? In its last three years of results, the index displayed a steady increase in Americans who felt comfortable with LGBTQ issues and people, yet this past survey doesn’t reflect this.
Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s Chief Communications Officer, said “legal equality is not the same as acceptance. You can’t legislate acceptance.”
Ellis agrees. She thinks legislation will not close the gap to full acceptance or judicial decisions alone. Instead, you need to create a culture where LGBTQ people are embraced and respected. GLAAD is doubling their efforts with the help of their Young Ambassador Program and other means.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.