America’s younger generation is becoming less comfortable with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals, according to a report released June 24.
The Accelerating Acceptance report, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD, showed that respondents age 18-34 were much less tolerant of LGBT people than in the prior two years’ surveys.
GLAAD first launched the report to gauge “the state of America’s hearts and minds when it comes to accepting LGBT people,” according to their website, glaad.org.
Released just before the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City that started the LGBT movement, this year’s results surprised advocates, as the younger generation has typically been known as more open and progressive. Overall, only 45 percent of non-LGBT respondents in the younger bracket said they were “very” or “somewhat” comfortable around LGBTQ people or with LGBT issues in 2018 – a sharp decline from 53 percent in 2017 and 63 percent in 2016.
In 2018, the biggest drop from the previous year happened among young women – from 64 percent in 2017 to 52 percent in 2018. It had dropped only 1 point – from 65 to 64 percent – the year before.
But across all three years, the decline was especially noticeable among young males, dropping from 62 percent in 2016 to 40 percent in 2017, then 35 percent in 2018.
“While young people are identifying as LGBT in higher rates than ever before, there has also been an uptick in non-LGBT young people pushing back against acceptance,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO, wrote in the report.
The drop in comfort showed up over a variety of scenarios. For example, 39 percent of non-LGBT respondents in the 18-34 age group in 2018 said they would be “very” or “somewhat” uncomfortable learning that their child had been taught a lesson on LGBT history in school, compared with 27 percent in 2016. When it comes to their child having an LGBT teacher, 33 percent were uncomfortable, compared to 25 percent from two years before.
Other scenarios – such as learning that a family member or their doctor is LGBT – also logged a 10 points or more growth in discomfort.
Across American adults of all ages, comfort with LGBT individuals remained stable. So did backing for equal rights, with 8 out of 10 adults in support.
According to GLAAD, the survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll from Jan. 8-11 among 1,970 U.S. adults ages 18 or older, including 1,754 who were classified as non-LGBT adults.
To read the full report, visit glaad.org/publications/accelerating-acceptance-2019.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Grace Thornton is a writer based in Birmingham, Ala.)