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Most Americans think LGBT+ people have protections they do not

Most Americans think LGBT+ people have protections they do not

  • Straight, cis Americans want LGBT+ people to have legal protection from discrimination and think they already do.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

The majority of both LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ Americans think anti-discrimination laws and protections are far wider than they are.

They believe you can’t turn away LGBT+ people from a restaurant, evict them from housing, or deny benefits to an employee’s same-sex partner. They even think the US military can’t prevent a physically qualified trans person from serving.

In fact, LGBT+ people don’t have universal protections in these areas. Moreover, President Donald Trump banned trans people from serving early in his presidency.

Meanwhile most non-LGBT+ people also believe these anti-discrimination protections should exist.

And they are happy being around LGBT+ people in the majority of circumstances.

The results are from a study by LGBT+ not-for-profit GLAAD.

GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said:

‘The findings highlight a dangerous reality: a significant majority of Americans, even within our own community, are not aware that LGBTQ people are not federally protected from discrimination in many areas of life.’

Huge knowledge gap on legal protections

In particular, the study highlighted the following areas where comprehensive legal protection doesn’t exist for LGBT+ people:

89% of non-LGBT+ respondents and 78% of LGBT+ respondents believe it is currently illegal to evict someone from housing. 91% of straight cisgender people think it should be illegal.

When it comes to businesses, like a restaurant, turning away people, 80% of non-LGBT+ and 65% of LGBT+ thought it was illegal. Again, 90% of straight, cis people think it should be illegal.

Meanwhile 78% of non-LGBT+ respondents and 70% of LGBT+ believe it is illegal to deny employment benefits – like a pension or health insurance coverage – to an employee’s same-sex partner. Again, 86% of straight, non-trans people thought it should be illegal.

And – despite widespread publicity around Trump’s ban on trans people in the military – 55% of non-LGBT+ and 53% of LGBT+ people thought they could serve. Moreover, almost three quarters of straight, cis people thought they should be allowed to serve.

The study also looked at bathroom use – a contentious issue in the US in the last few years. 

Again, 59% of non-LGBT+ people and exactly half LGBT+ people thought it was illegal to deny trans people the right to use a bathroom that matches their identity. Meanwhile, 61% of non-LGBT+ people thought it should be illegal to limit trans restroom access.

Most are comfortable around LGBT+ people

The survey also looked at how comfortable LGBT+ Americans felt around LGBT+ people.

Only a quarter of straight, cis people would feel ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ uncomfortable about LGBT+ members at their place of worship.

Meanwhile 28% would be uncomfortable having an LGBT+ doctor. Again, exactly the same number would be unhappy with their child having an LGBT+ teacher.

And the same number would be ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ uncomfortable seeing a same-sex couple holding hands.

Closer to home, 30% would be uncomfortable with an LGBT+ family member.

But the highest number was of those who wouldn’t be happy having their child given an LGBT+ history lesson. 39% felt uncomfortable with that.

‘Crucial’ to elect pro-equality candidates

GLAAD has been calling on people to vote Democrat in tomorrow’s elections.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his party have promised to finally move forward on anti-discrimination laws. He has vowed to act on some LGBT+ issues in his first 100 days in office.

Moreover, GLAAD has been tracking a series of over 175 attacks Trump and his administration have launched against LGBT+ Americans.

Ellis said: ‘Although we have witnessed landmark decisions for marriage equality and non-discrimination workplace protections in the last few years, the general public’s lack of understanding about the state of LGBTQ rights in America is largely due to the fact that our issues and lives are still being largely left out of the national conversation, especially during the 2020 election cycle when so much is at stake for LGBTQ people.

‘With a large majority of Americans expressing that federal law should protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in areas of life in which they are currently not protected, it is more crucial than ever that we elect pro-equality candidates who will pass comprehensive legislation like the Equality Act and remove discriminatory measures imposed on LGBTQ people, like the transgender military ban.’

GLAAD worked with Clint – which provides panel members for surveys. They interviewed 2,506 US adults online in November and December 2019 for the Accelerating Acceptance Study.