On Thursday, the Pew Research Center released a comprehensive national survey on the attitudes and experiences of 1,197 of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. Mirroring the growing acceptance of LGBT equality among the general population, 92 percent of the respondents believe that society has become more accepting of them and that society will continue to become more accepting.
Despite these encouraging findings, violence and harassment remain a problem for LGBT Americans — 58 percent indicate being the subject of slurs or jokes, and almost one third report having been threatened or physically attacked.
And while American support for marriage equality continues to grow, the survey finds that the most common top priority for LGBT Americans is equal employment rights—such as those that would be implemented by the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
Race and gender also figured heavily into feelings of acceptance among respondents. White LGBT respondents are more optimistic about future social acceptance than LGBT people of color. As a whole, LGBT adults also generally agree that there is more acceptance of lesbian and bisexual women than there is for gay and bisexual men. Unfortunately, eight in ten respondents believe that there is little to no acceptance for transgender adults, despite encouraging progress in legal protections for transgender people.
When asked why they believe society is becoming more accepting of LGBT individuals, most believe it has to do with personally knowing someone who identifies as LGBT, knowing a public figure is LGBT, or encountering other non-LGBT people who support equality. Barack Obama and Ellen DeGeneres are cited as the two most important figures in advancing LGBT rights — 23 percent for Obama and 18 percent for Ellen DeGeneres. These findings underscore the importance of speaking out for LGBT equality.
Overall, the survey shows that LGBT Americans are positive about changing attitudes in America and continue to be more than a single-issue demographic.
Sasanka Jinadasa is an intern with LGBT Progress.