increases in visibility and public understanding, LGBTQ individuals are at an increased risk for discrimination, according to GLAAD’s Accelerating Acceptance study, out Wednesday.
GLAAD found that 70% of LGBTQ Americans surveyed said discrimination toward the community has increased within the last two years — in the workplace, on social media, in public accommodations and even within the family. The annual study measures “Americans’ attitudes and comfortability towards LGBTQ Americans.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, says the uptick isn’t surprising, given the recent wave of legislation targeting LGBTQ people. This spans areas such as classroom censorship, book bans, healthcare restrictions and access to school sports. In 2022 alone, nearly 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country.
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According to the study, seven in 10 LGBTQ Americans reported personally experiencing discrimination, which marks an 11% increase from last year and a 24% jump from 2020. Ellis credits this surge to the “barrage of anti-LGBTQ legislation year over year” and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric espoused by certain politicians and far-right news outlets.
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Gen Z adults have more LGBTQ visibility than their predecessors. But they’re also reporting higher levels of discrimination over the last two years compared to the rest of the community. Sixty-seven percent of queer Gen Zers have reported experiencing aggression based on their sexual orientation and 56% based on their gender identity or expression.
Ellis has previously called visibility a “double-edged” sword for the LGBTQ community, and this holds true for Gen Z adults, whose comfort in their LGBTQ identities makes them targets for ignorance. “Visibility is essential to growing acceptance, and it makes us more vulnerable to discrimination at the same time,” she says.
Amid this surge in LGBTQ discrimination, transgender and nonbinary people are grappling with an acute feeling of danger in their own backyards. GLAAD found that 54% of trans and nonbinary individuals don’t feel safe walking in their neighborhoods, in contrast with 36% of all LGBTQ adults. At least 14 trans people have been “fatally shot or killed by other violent means” in 2022, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
GLAAD also found that 78% of non-LGBTQ adults “inaccurately associate the term ‘LGBTQ’ with being mostly about sexual orientation,” and Ellis says this knowledge gap is part of the equation that leads to discrimination against trans and nonbinary individuals.
“It has a direct correlation because we know that what we don’t understand or know brings fear,” Ellis says, adding that visibility is an educational tool. “We know through research and studies that Americans do want to see more LGBTQ people because it helps them gain an understanding and an acceptance of our community, which we know creates a safe environment for us.”
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While things may seem bleak, many queer people still find hope in the transformative power of visibility, as well as inclusive legislation.
Three-quarters of LGBTQ adults view societal visibility as being “essential to gaining increased equality and acceptance.” With regard to visibility in the media, 64% of LGBTQ adults said they “feel proud and supported when there is accurate LGBTQ inclusion in the media.”
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