When Kendra Johnson walks into a room or interacts with other people, the discrimination she may face can come from many sources – her status as a female, black, or lesbian living in the South.
For her, “there is no way to separate them,” said Johnson, executive director of Equality North Carolina, the state’s oldest LGBT rights organization.
Many LGBTQ people of color experience the same discrimination and the effects multiply as a person’s different identities are targeted, research shows. A comprehensive summary of recent studies released this week found that LGBTQ people of color not only face more discrimination in the workplace, the housing market and other sectors than white LGBTQ people, but as a result face “a higher level of discrimination. profoundly greater damage ”.
Damage manifests itself in different ways including disproportionate rates of poor mental and physical health, economic insecurity and psychological distress, the report concludes based on five years of peer-reviewed research on the LGBTQ population, an effort of the What We Know project of the ‘Cornell University.
“A lot of people have claimed and assumed that these disparities exist but have not seen anyone compile them this way,” said historian Nathaniel Frank, director of the project. “It’s about understanding that this is people’s lives and that there is real harm. “
The What We Know project, part of Cornell’s Center for the Study of Inequality in New York, brings together academic research on public policy issues and shares consensus findings for policymakers, journalists and others.
The briefing states that LGBTQ people are more likely than non-LGBTQ people to be people of color: LGBTQ people of color make up 42% of the LGBTQ population, compared to 32% of non-LGBTQ people, according to the report.
LGBTQ people of color face higher risks of racial and anti-LGBTQ discrimination than white LGBTQ people, which in turn carries a greater risk of psychological and economic harm. LGBTQ black Americans in particular are disproportionately living in the South, where most states lack protections againstLGBTQ discrimination. They are also more likely to face economic insecurity.
“This research shows why federal protections against discrimination are overdue and vital to protecting some of the most under-represented and vulnerable members of our community,” said Imani Rupert-Gordon, executive director of the National Center for Rights lesbians. “Federal protections against discrimination are absolutely necessary to protect and support all LGBTQ people, and this is especially true for LGBTQ people of color. “
Anti-LGBTQ prejudice exacerbates the effects of racial discrimination
For Johnson of Equality North Carolina, the results were not surprising, she said, “just based on my lived experience and the work I do every day.”
What Johnson appreciated about the report, however, was its broad analysis of the cross-identities of LGBTQ people.
“The reality is that I cannot separate my identities,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t work for an LGBT equality and fairness organization without working for racial and social justice.”
According to the brief, 36% of all LGBTQ Americans surveyed had experienced discrimination in their public, professional or personal lives in the past year.
The frequency and negative impacts of such discrimination were significantly higher for LGBT people of color: 43% reported discrimination in the past year, compared to 31% of white LGBTQ respondents.
For example, the project found that LGBTQ people of color were two and a half times more likely than white LGBTQ people (32% to 13%) to experience anti-LGBTQ discrimination, from slurs to verbal abuse, when they apply for jobs. Likewise, these people were more than twice as likely (24% to 11%) to experience such abuse when interacting with law enforcement.
Meanwhile, more than three-quarters (77%) of black respondents who reported discrimination in the previous year said the incidents had negatively affected their psychological well-being, compared with just over half of l whole group.
Such incidents of bias exacerbate already troubling circumstances for many LGBTQ people of color. Compared to non-LGBTQ black Americans, for example, LGBTQ black people were more likely to report economic insecurity (56% to 49%) and food insecurity (37% to 27%).
More than half (51%) of black LGBTQ people felt that anti-LGBTQ discrimination affected their ability to be hired, and 41% believed that it limited their ability to stay in employment, compared with about a third of white respondents in each. case.
“There is a multiplier effect if you are faced with discrimination based on multiple identities,” said Frank, director of the project. “Once you see the world from the perspective of a marginalized identity, you are ready for the damage that can come from discrimination – and so if you experience it on another basis, it shouldn’t be surprising that the evil is aggravated. “
Identity support plays a major role
Such prejudice can disproportionately affect LGBTQ youth of color, who already experience marked differences in suicide rates compared to white LGBTQ youth, according to the briefing. While a quarter of all LGBTQ youth reported suicide attempts in the past year, the rate among white LGBTQ youth was 12%, compared to 31% of Native American / Indigenous LGBTQ youth, 21% of young people. Black LGBTQ and 18% of Latin American LGBTQ youth. .
For black LGBTQ youth who experienced anti-LGBTQ discrimination, those rates jumped to 27%, compared to 12% for those who did not.
“Once you have depression and suicidal tendencies, it can lead to chronic problems and create fear as the lens through which you experience your life and the world,” Frank said.
Support plays a major role in alleviating the situation, according to the report, whether it comes from lawmakers, family or peers.
For black LGBTQ youth who reported at least one important support person in their life, or who had access to an identity-affirming space like an LGBTQ community center or a welcoming church congregation, the rates fell. at 16%, versus 24% for those who didn’t.
“As a society, we can do something about this by creating safe spaces and having favorable laws,” Frank said. “This research poses at our feet as a society the question of whether we want to make communities of marginalized children safer or less secure, healthier or less healthy.”
Some religious organizations have made efforts in recent years to show their love to LGBTQ members of color.
In Detroit, the Metropolitan Community Church has changed its mission to focus on intersectional equality. The multicultural church, which is part of a global denomination with outreach to LGBTQ communities, is involved in an effort called Colors of Pride, a movement to get several hundred congregations nationwide to commit to participating LGBTQ and racial equality support activities during Pride Month in June. .
“If you look at the LGBTQ community as the umbrella, you recognize that black people are disproportionately affected in all of the areas that the report highlights,” the Reverend said.Roland Stringfellow, the senior pastor of the church. It’s on her mind as the congregation prepares for its June 17 celebration. Saturday, which will symbolically link the emancipation of those enslaved to the liberation of today’s LGBTQ Americans.
Stringfellow said the impact of racism is often overlooked within the LGBTQ movement.
“For this information to be described, the leaders of the movement now really have a choice,” he said. “Does solidarity have just the name, or are we starting to move towards policy changes and trainings to make people more sensitive to the things that are really embedded in our society?” “
Stringfellow said there was growing recognition of the need to confront religious beliefs or silence as barriers in the fight for LGBTQ equality, especially among lawmakers who are people of faith.
“While I don’t want to get into a biblical battle or shame, you can understand how all faiths and religions really point to the equality of all,” he said. “So if we’re talking about real change, it’s one thing to protest in the streets, but it’s even better to meet with lawmakers and bring about change.
Johnson, North Carolina Tie, said states need to better track data on race, gender identity and sexual orientation to tell the full story of the most vulnerable groups. For example, without tracking gender identity or sexual orientation in school, it is difficult to discern the graduation rates of LGBTQ students.
And while stubborn policies and prejudices can cause lasting damage that can take years to overcome, Frank,Director of the report, said that replacing discriminatory laws and practices with more inclusive laws “can lead to better health for more people.”
“Laws and policies make a real difference”,he said.