The majority of LGBTQ Americans say they have experienced violence, threats, or harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a new national poll. These results are sobering—but only tell part of the story.
The poll, from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is part of a larger series on “Experiencing Discrimination in America.” Among the key findings related to LGBTQ people:
- 57% of LGBTQ Americans have experienced slurs about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- 57% of LGBTQ Americans say that they or an LGBTQ friend or family member have been threatened or non-sexually harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- 51% of LGBTQ Americans say they have been sexually harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- 51% of LGBTQ Americans say they have experienced violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- 32% of LGBTQ Americans of color say they have personally experienced discrimination because of their LGBTQ identity when applying for jobs, compared to 13% of white LGBTQ individuals.
- 24% of LGBTQ Americans of color say they have personally experienced discrimination because they are LGBTQ when interacting with the police, compared to 11% of white LGBTQ people.
- 43% of LGBTQ people agree that LGBTQ children where they live do not have the same chances to get a quality education as non-LGBTQ children.
Take these raw numbers and add in personal stories like those told by Harron Walker in “The Daily Things Queer and Trans People Do to Avoid Violence.” Consider the wise observation of Jillian T. Weiss, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (whom Walker cites): “You can’t just look at how many people were physically assaulted because they were trans… You have to look at the entire social-cultural background that we as transgender people inhabit, that creates this high level of violence against transgender people and trans women of color.”
That’s a tall order, albeit a needed one, and one that will require us to address the systemic sexism and racism that pervade our society even outside the LGBTQ community. As we proceed, though, let us remember, too, the strength and resilience of LGBTQ people. As with other marginalized groups, we cannot let ourselves be defined solely by the discrimination and violence done to us, even as we strive to end it. We are more than just victims. We have much to celebrate as well as much to mourn.
Wishing you and your families strength, safety, and celebration.