Recently, The LGBTQ Institute, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and Georgia State University conducted the LGBTQ Institute Southern Survey to improve public knowledge about the conditions and life experiences of LGBTQ Southerners.
As one of the largest studies of LGBTQ people in the American South, the data were collected using an online, anonymous survey of 6,502 self-identified LGBTQ adults living in 14 U.S. states, including: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The survey instrument was developed in close collaboration with a wide range of LGBTQ advocates and organizations with the aim of collecting critical data on educational and employment status, health and access to healthcare, social and political involvement, and experiences of sexuality and/or gender-related discrimination. The survey was distributed online with the help of more than 140 community-based organizations across the South.
Among the community organizations tapped to distribute the survey, none are from the Hampton Roads area. Organizations in Virginia that helped distribute the survey via their networks include:
- Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce;
- Center for Black Equity;
- Diversity Richmond;
- HokiePRIDE of Virginia Tech;
- National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) – Virginia;
- Side by Side;
- Virginia Organizing;
Survey results are organized in five major sections: (1) Sample overview; (2) Education and employment; (3) Health and wellness; (4) Public safety and discrimination; and (5) LGBTQ community life and political participation. Top level findings of the report are detailed below. If you would like to download the entire 103 page report, you may do so HERE.
Disparities in education exist between non-Hispanic white LGBTQ Southerners and communities of color and transgender people
- Overall, 93.2% of LGBTQ Southerners who took the survey report having at least some college experience with only 6.8% reporting high school diploma, GED, or less than high school diploma
- 29.9% of LGBT Southerners reported having at least a four-year degree, with 24.8% reporting having a graduate, professional, or doctoral degree.
- People of color were less likely to have completed a four year degree or advanced degrees than non-Hispanic whites
- Respondents who self-identified as transgender and other gender identities were significantly less likely to have advanced degrees than non-transgender people
- Younger respondents were more likely to be self-aware of their sexual orientation in high school than older respondents
- Hispanics are significantly more likely to have be out to at least some students, teachers, and staff in high school than non-Hispanic white respondents
- Hispanic, Black/African, or other people of color were significantly more likely to be out about their transgender identity than non-Hispanic white respondents
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Young, Black/African American, Hispanic, and transgender Southerners report poorer health, lower rates of insurance and access to care, and more discrimination when trying to access care.
- 69.0% of respondents report “Excellent” or “Good” health. Younger respondents, age 18-29, report lower rates of Excellent/Good health (64.1%), as did transgender (56.5%), other gender (55.9%), respondents, and bisexual (62.1%) and other orientation (58.4%) respondents
- Rates of health insurance were on par with the national average*, with 90.6% of respondents reporting some form of health insurance, however, younger respondents and transgender respondents had lower rates
- 90% of respondents report going to a doctor, hospital, or clinic in the past 12 months; however, Black/African American, Hispanic, and transgender individuals were significantly less likely to have accessed care
- 33% of all respondents report some form of discrimination when trying to access healthcare services because of their sexual orientation or transgender status in the past year, with nearly half choosing to avoid treatment
- Transgender and those who identified as another gender report unfair treatment by healthcare providers (26.1% and 26% respectively)-two times the rates reported by cisgender respondents
- Latinx transgender individuals experienced higher rates of healthcare provider discrimination (25.5%) than respondents from other racial/ethnic backgrounds
*U.S. CENSUS BUREAU. HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE IN THE UNITED STATES. 2017. AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: HTTPS://WWW.CENSUS.GOV/LIBRARY/PUBLICATIONS/2018/DEMO/P60-264.HTML
Transgender people less likely to report working full-time and more likely to report experiencing workplace discrimination
- 54.0% of respondents report working full time and 7.8% report working part-time. An additional 11.3% stated that they work two or more jobs; 9.7% report going to school full-time, and 7.4% are retired
- Transgender and other gender identified individuals are less likely to work full-time than people who identify as cisgender
- Transgender Southerners are significantly more likely to report being treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay, or promotion than their LGB peers (14.4% vs. 5.4%)
- Bisexual and another sexual identity respondents were somewhat less likely to report working full-time and more likely to report working part-time or having two or more employment statuses
POLITICAL AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
LGBT Southerners are active in politics…
- 93% of respondents were registered to vote
- 90% voted in the 2016 election
- 58.9% identified as Democrat, with 82.2% identifying as liberal or very liberal
- 96.5% reported dissatisfaction with the Trump Administration
…and their communities
- 75.9% of respondents believe that equal employment should be the top priority of community advocates and political leaders
- 56.4% of respondents attended a pride event
- 49.4% attended LGBT marches
- 34.1% are members of a state or national (30.3%) LGBTQ advocacy organization
EXPERIENCES OF DISCRIMINATION
The most common forms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status in the past year:
Summary of past year and lifetime prevalence of different types of discrimination based on sexual orientation and being transgender:
Additional key findings regarding experiences of discrimination:
- Respondents in the 40-49 and 50-59 age groups report the highest lifetime rates of discriminatory experiences
- Black/African American transgender respondents were most likely to report feeling unwelcome in places of worship (37.1%)
- Significantly greater rates of Black/African American LGB respondents (77.3%) report having been threatened or physically attacked in their lifetime because of their sexual orientation when compared with LGB respondents in other racial/ethnic groups
- Latinx transgender individuals experienced being threatened or physically attacked the most at 29.1% because of their transgender identity when compared with transgender respondents in other racial/ethnic groups
Source: Wright, Eric R., Joshua Simpkins, Michael Jo Saint, Ana LaBoy, Renee Shelby, Courtni Andrews, Madison Higbee, and Ryan M. Roemerman. 2018. State of the South: A Snapshot on the Conditions and Life Experiences of LGBTQ Southerners. Atlanta, GA: The LGBTQ Institute at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.