LGBTQ people of color—and especially trans people of color—face disproportionate levels of harm, discrimination, and oppression when compared to cisgender, heterosexual populations—especially, white, cisgender, heterosexual populations. LGBTQ folks of color, however, also endure more harm than their white queer peers. For many of us, that information isn’t terribly surprising, though it is of course disturbing. And as the Equality Act continues to live in limbo, recent numbers on state and federal protections (or lack thereof) are especially important.
On Wednesday, June 16, a coalition of groups released important new research analysis that examines the ways a lack of federal protections for LGBTQ folks harms queer people of color in particular. The groups, including Freedom for All Americans, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the National LGBTQ Task Force, released this new analysis, and the What We Know Project at Cornell University authored the research brief. Let’s check out the numbers below.
More than 40% of LGBTQ people of color report experiencing discrimination of some type in the past year. In comparison, only 31% of white LGBTQ respondents said the same. Of Black youth, 41% reported experiencing anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the last year. Mind you, this is on top of the reality that people are trying to survive a literal global pandemic, deal with the ramifications of a Trump presidency, and face potential mental health challenges exacerbated by changes (or lack of protection) as the coronavirus rages.
More than 50% of Black respondents reported feeling that discrimination negatively impacts their ability to be hired for a job and more than 40% say discrimination has an effect on their ability to keep a job once being hired. In comparison, 33% of white LGBTQ people feel discrimination impacts their chance of being hired for a job, and just over 30% feel it impacts their chance of staying employed once hired.
Similarly, according to this analysis, LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely to experience anti-LGBTQ slurs or similar verbal abuse when applying for jobs than white LGBTQ people. LGBTQ people of color are also more than twice as likely as white LGBTQ folks to experience anti-queer discrimination when interacting with police. Remember these numbers the next time someone flippantly suggests someone get a “real” job or just “try harder” at gaining safe, consistent employment.
Daily Kos has covered instances of “denial of service” against openly LGBTQ folks in a number of states, all of which often come with this gut question: How is this possibly legal? After that, a common reaction is: What effect does this have on people actually living under these policies? According to this research, LGBTQ residents in these states saw a 46% increase in mental distress between the years 2014 and 2016.
This research also suggests that more than 50% of Black LGBTQ folks live in low-income households. Black LGBTQ people are also more likely to be food insecure than Black adults who are not LGBTQ. Of Black LGBTQ people, 51% live in the South, which, as we know, contains a number of states that don’t offer anti-queer discrimination protections.
We know that LGBTQ people—and especially LGBTQ people of color—report higher rates of mental health struggles like anxiety, depression, and suicidality. Thanks to this research, we also know that reported suicide attempts by LGBTQ youth have dropped by 7% in states that legalized same-sex marriage.
What else? As covered previously by Daily Kos, we know that LGBTQ youth who receive positive affirmation and acceptance from an adult in their life report lower rates of suicide attempts. As this research suggests, Black LGBTQ youth who had support from at least one person or had access to a queer-affirming space reported attempting suicide at lower rates than peers who lacked said support, at a difference of 16% to 24%.
If you’re feeling at a loss for how to support the LGBTQ people in your life, remember that the simplest thing you can do is offer empathy, compassion, support, and acceptance. There can be a learning curve and process when it comes to understanding identities, pronouns, and life paths that are different than yours, and that’s okay, but acceptance can start at square one.
Here are five free resources for mental health you can access from home as well as five simple ways you can support trans folks in your life. And remember, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is free, confidential, and available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
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