A new report from GLAAD and the Harris Poll shows a decline in support for LGBTI Americans from a surprising group: millennials.
GLAAD recently released the fifth edition of its Accelerating Acceptance report, showing trends of support for LGBTI people within the United States.
In this year’s report, the organization looked at various factors of non-LGBTI Americans and their ‘comfort’ levels around LGBTI individuals. The report compares the responses from 2016, 2017 and 2018.
In 2017, GLAAD found ‘the acceptance pendulum abruptly stopped and swung in the opposite direction’. While it mostly stabilized last year, acceptance and comfort remains lower than what it was in 2016. It’s even lower among millennials.
For this report, millennials comprise people aged 18-34.
A drop in millennials ‘allies’
One of the questions is whether a non-LGBTI person considers themself an ally. GLAAD defines ‘allies’ as non-LGBTI people who said they felt ‘”very” or “somewhat” comfortable in all situations’ with LGBTI people and themes.
Among both male and female millennials, the rate of allies dropped from 2016 to 2018. Overall, 63% of these respondents called themselves allies in 2016, compared to only 45% last year.
Levels of comfort amongst millennials is also dropping in specific scenarios.
In 2016, 24% of millennials said they’d be uncomfortable learning a family member identifies as LGBTI. This number jumped over 10 points to 36% in 2018.
Similarly, 39% said they’d be uncomfortable with LGBTI history lessons in school in 2018, compared to only 27% in 2016.
Why is this happening?
‘While young people are identifying as LGBTQ in higher rates than ever before, there has also been an uptick in non-LGBTQ
young people pushing back against acceptance,’ said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.
She offered today’s divisive rhetoric as having an impact.
She said: ‘The younger generation has traditionally been thought of as a beacon of progressive values. We have taken that idea for granted and this year’s results show that the sharp and quick rise in divisive rhetoric in politics and culture is having a negative influence on younger Americans.’
Amongst all situations polled — a family member coming out, seeing a same-sex couple holding hands, etc. — discomfort peaked in 2017. Last year, such discomfort either stabilized or dropped slightly.
Despite this, non-LGBTI Americans who ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree with full equal rights for LGBTI people increased by one point to 80% in 2018.
‘Closing the gap to full acceptance of LGBTQ people will not come from legislation on judicial decisions alone, but from creating a culture where LGBTQ people are embraced and respected,’ Ellis concluded.