GLAAD’s annual Accelerating Acceptance study measures American society’s attitudes and level of comfort towards LGBTQ Americans. Their latest report has recorded a steady increase in many key areas of acceptance, but this year found some distinct changes of note: non-LGBTQ Americans feel increased confusion around the letters and terms used to describe the community, with a majority inaccurately associating the term LGBTQ with being mostly about sexual orientation. Most alarmingly, LGBTQ people are reporting an increased incidence of discrimination, falling in particular on LGBTQ people of color and transgender and non-binary people.
A significant majority of the LGBTQ community – a startling 70 percent – says that discrimination has increased over the past two years. It is taking place not in distant, seldom-visited corners of their experience, but in their daily lives with family, in the workplace, on social media, in public accommodations and in interactions with people at their children’s schools.
We found that more than half (54 percent) of transgender and non-binary people feel unsafe walking in their own neighborhoods, compared to 36 percent of all LGBTQ adults, as well as less safe in various environments from work to social media or in a typical store. More Gen Z Americans are out as LGBTQ than any other generation, yet a majority of individuals (56 percent) are more fearful for their personal safety in 2022 than in the prior two years.
These findings are distressing, but not unforeseen. Legislation targeting LGBTQ people and youth, including censorship in classrooms, book bans, bans on evidence-based healthcare and access to school sports, has ballooned since 2020 to nearly 250 bills introduced in statehouses across the nation. Eight in ten LGBTQ people strongly agree they wish there was more legislative action at the federal level to protect them as an LGBTQ person.
The good news is that the LGBTQ community is aligned, activated, and united. Three out of four LGBTQ adults strongly agree that visibility in society is essential to gaining increased equality and acceptance. A significant majority are committed to maintaining their visibility and supporting everyone in the community. Representation in the media is more important than ever, and 64 percent strongly agree they feel proud and supported when there is accurate LGBTQ inclusion in the media.
The 2022 Accelerating Acceptance study clearly shows the destructive repercussions of inaccurate rhetoric and baseless legislation, and underscores the necessity of GLAAD’s crucial role in the ongoing fight for full LGBTQ equality and acceptance. The rise in discrimination in public, political, and private spheres makes it very clear that passing the Equality Act, legislation that will secure federal protections for the LGBTQ community in areas of life, which have long remained vulnerable, has never been more critical.