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Research: LGBTQ people of color meet more discrimination, Equality Act an urgent need
--From a press release
2021-07-21

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Discrimination inflicts profoundly greater harm on LGBTQ people of color in a wide range of areas, according to recent analysis of scholarly research released by the National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National LGBTQ Task Force, and Freedom for All Americans. The research underscores the urgent need for the Senate to pass the Equality Act — landmark federal legislation that would modernize and improve our nation's civil rights laws by including explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people, women, and people of color — and reveals how LGBTQ people of color experience grossly disproportionate rates of discrimination and as a result poorer mental and physical health, greater economic insecurity, and an increased number of attempts to die by suicide.

In addition, LGBTQ people of color are more likely than white LGBTQ people to live in states without protections against discrimination and with statewide laws that harm LGBTQ people, underscoring the urgent need for the Senate to pass the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ people of color.

Highlights of the research brief's findings include:

LGBTQ people are more likely than non-LGBTQ people to be people of color, and Black LGBTQ Americans are disproportionately likely to live in states without protections against discrimination. For example, 42% of LGBTQ people are people of color compared to 32% of non-LGBTQ people and the majority of Black LGBTQ Americans live in the South (51.4%, more than twice the share of any other region), where most states lack anti-discrimination protections.

LGBTQ people of color face higher odds of discrimination than both non-LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ white people. For example, LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely to experience anti-LGBTQ discrimination (slurs or other verbal abuse) when applying for jobs than white LGBTQ individuals (32% vs. 13%). LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely as white LGBTQ people to experience anti-LGBTQ discrimination when interacting with the police (24% vs. 11%).

Black LGBTQ Americans are more likely to experience economic insecurity than Black non-LGBTQ Americans. For example, the majority of Black LGBTQ people (56%) live in low-income households (below 200% of the federal poverty level) compared to 49% of Black non-LGBTQ Americans, and Black LGBTQ adults are also more likely to experience food insecurity than Black non-LGBTQ adults (37% compared to 27%).

Hundreds of studies conclude that experiencing anti-LGBTQ discrimination increases the risks of poor mental and physical health, including depression, anxiety, suicidality, PTSD, substance use, and psychological distress.

LGBTQ people of color face disproportionate odds of suicidality, which is linked to discrimination. For example, while 12% of white LGBTQ youth attempted suicide, the rate is 31% for LGBTQ Native/Indigenous youth, 21% for LGBTQ Black youth, and 18% of LGBTQ Latinx youth.

While supportive laws, family, and peers lower the risk of poor health outcomes for LGBTQ people of color, anti-LGBTQ state laws inflict tangible harm on sexual minority populations. For example, states with "denial of service" laws that give a license to discriminate against LGBTQ residents between 2014 and 2016 were linked to a 46% increase in LGBTQ mental distress. Black LGBTQ youth who reported high levels of support from at least one person, or who had access to an LGBTQ-affirming space, reported attempting suicide at lower rates than those who lacked such support (16% vs. 24%).

Partners shared the following statements in reaction to the research findings:

David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition:

"These painful figures highlight an indisputable link between discrimination, economic security, mental and physical health. People with multiple stigmatized, marginalized social and political identities, particularly Black LGBTQ+/Same Gender Loving people, bear a disproportionate amount of the weight illustrated by the data in this study. Statutory equality for LGBTQ+ people nationwide is a necessary foundation to remove the gaps in existing civil rights laws if we are to ever live up to our country's founding promises of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all."

Kierra Johnson, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force:

"The majority of Black LGBTQ people live in the South, with nearly half (44%) of all Black women couples raising children. Even today, most of these states still do not protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and have overtly discriminatory laws on their books .It is no wonder the disparities are so profound and it is a testament to the strength and resilience of our people that they are doing as well as they are. For our community and for our children it's time for federal action!"

Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

"This important brief only further solidifies what we have known for a very long time — the combination of racism and anti-LGBTQ discrimination has serious and long-lasting effects for the health and well-being of LGBTQ people of color. This research highlights why federal non-discrimination protections are overdue and vital to protecting the most some of the most underrepresented and vulnerable members of our community. Federal anti-discrimination protections are absolutely necessary in protecting and supporting all LGBTQ people, and this is especially true for LGBTQ people of color."

Kasey Suffredini, CEO and National Campaign Director of Freedom for All Americans:

"Study after study shows that nondiscrimination protections improve economic opportunities, public safety, and physical and mental well-being of LGBTQ people. It is well past time for the essential protections available only in some of our states and cities to be extended to all LGBTQ Americans, especially LGBTQ people of color, who are disproportionately burdened by the lack of protections."

For more information about the research, or to speak with one of the organizations who co-led the analysis, please contact Angela Dallara, Vice President of External Communications at adallara@freedomforallamericans.org . To read the full research brief, please visit: www.freedomforallamericans.org/report.

Freedom & Opportunity For All is a national campaign advocating for the urgent passage of the Equality Act — historic federal legislation that would modernize and improve our nation's civil rights laws by including explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people, as well as women, people of color, and people of all faiths. The campaign — supported by hundreds of the nation's top leaders in civil rights, faith, education, health care, and advocacy — is co-founded and led by 16 of the nation's leading advocates for equality, including Center for American Progress; Equality Federation; Freedom for All Americans; GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders; GLSEN; Human Rights Campaign; Lambda Legal; National Black Justice Coalition; National Center for Lesbian Rights; National Center for Transgender Equality; National LGBTQ Task Force; National Women's Law Center; PFLAG National; SAGE; Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund; and The Trevor Project. More information can be found at www.PassTheEqualityAct.com .

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.


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