Transgender people in the American South reported nearly twice as much discrimination over the past year than lesbian, gay or bisexual people, according to a study conducted by the LGBTQ Institute at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and Georgia State University.
The wide-ranging study also found that the most common forms of discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people in the South were being subject to slurs and jokes, rejection by friends and family and places of worship, and poor service at places of business.
“This research provides critical, potentially actionable information to agencies and state and local governments interested in responding to the needs of LGBTQ people,” said Ryan Roemerman, LGBTQ Institute executive director and study co-director.
The survey touches on a broad range of topics, including education and employment, health and wellness, criminal justice and safety, sexual and gender identity, and discrimination.
“Planning for this survey began in 2015, but the need for this survey became even more urgent as LGBTQ people continue to be erased from federal policy and research,” said Eric R. Wright, Georgia State sociology professor and survey director. Wright is a faculty member from the Second Century Initiative, the predecessor initiative to the Next Generation Program.
The survey is one of the largest conducted, with more than 6,500 people taking part. Researchers worked with more 146 nonprofit organizations across 14 Southern states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
The survey also found that communities of color are more likely to be abused by police than non-Hispanic whites in the South. Black people are much more likely to be threatened or physically attacked in their lifetimes than other racial groups in the South.
“This is a study of, by and for southern LGBTQ people, with the support of many community and grassroots organizations and individuals,” said Tracee McDaniel, an Advisory Board member for the LGBTQ Institute. “The goal of this research is to amplify the voices of LGBTQ southerners and highlight the issues affecting our lives, in order to create a more safe and welcoming South.”
More analysis is forthcoming and will focus on communities of color, transgender people and individual reports for each of the 14 states that participated in the study.
“Our hope is that this research can serve as an important resource that can help LGBTQ people tell their stories, reframe narratives and dismantle discriminatory systems,” Roemerman said. “We also hope this data helps our partners on the ground as they develop their policy initiatives, fundraising campaigns and grassroots strategies.”
The survey results are available at https://www.lgbtqsouthernsurvey.org.
– Anna Varela, Director of Communications, College of Arts & Sciences