The Resurgence of Intolerance: The LGBTQ+ Community Speaks Out on Current Challenges

June 26, 2023 Author: Roy Eduardo Kokoyachuk

The past two years have been difficult for the LGBTQ+ community. Despite years of progress, a disturbing resurgence of intolerance threatens to undermine the hard-earned gains toward social acceptance. As part of our commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion, ThinkNow surveyed a nationally representative sample of LGBTQ+ Americans on their views of the current social climate, corporate support for LGBTQ+ causes, personal pronouns, and mental health care. Below are a few noteworthy findings from the study.

Download the full results of the quantitative survey here.

Discrimination Is On The Rise

We asked our sample of 500 LGBTQ+ Americans if they felt that discrimination or prejudice towards the LGBTQ+ community had increased over the past year, and 67% said "yes." This perception appears to be rooted in reality. A recent Gallup Poll found that support for same-sex relations in the U.S. dropped from 71% in 2022 to 64% in 2023. That drop is likely driven by a loss of support among Republicans, dropping from 56% last year to 41% currently. A possible explanation for this drop is the rhetoric surrounding the 2022 "Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida that portrayed education about sexual identity as “grooming” children to adopt gay lifestyles. While politicians appear to be driving the current wave of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, only 29% of our respondents said they “only vote for candidates who support LBGTQ+ rights.” For most (58%), a candidate’s position on LGBTQ+ rights is just one of many key factors when voting.

Corporate Support For LGBTQ+ Community Matters

Although recent controversies have surrounded Bud Light and Target's support for the LGBTQ+ community and their subsequent pullback of that support, LGBTQ+ consumers still believe companies should advocate for their causes. In fact, Target and Bud Light were two brands that respondents felt were doing a good job supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

However, using advertising to show support is not the only way respondents want brands to engage. Sixty-five percent want companies to train their employees in diversity, equity and inclusion, while 59% want companies to include sexual orientation in corporate nondiscrimination policies.

Personal Pronouns Are Age Sensitive

Thirteen percent of our sample used a pronoun other than “he/she.” The most common non-binary pronoun (18%) was “they/them.” Age was the primary factor that determined how important it was for respondents that people use their correct pronouns. Seventy-three percent of respondents between the ages of 18-22 stated that it was at least moderately important to them that people use their correct pronouns vs. 25% of those aged 55+.

Less Than Half Support Boycotts

While conservatives are boycotting Bud Light, Target, Kohl’s and even Chik-fil-A for supporting diversity, equity and inclusion ideals, the LGBTQ+ community is split on boycotts, with 43% saying they’ve boycotted a company because of their stance on LGBTQ+ issues. Interestingly, 59% of respondents in the 55+ age bracket say they’ve boycotted a company for their stance on LBGTQ+ issues, while only 34% of 18–22-year-olds have boycotted for that reason. Income also seems to be a factor, with 52% of those earning $80K or more supporting boycotts vs. 34% of those earning less than $35K a year.

Mental Health Support Needed Young LGBTQ+

Forty-two percent of LGBTQ+ youth—and 52 percent of trans youth—said they seriously considered suicide in 2021.” One thing that a vast majority of our LGBTQ+ survey respondents (76%) agreed on was the need to “create safe, accepting, and supportive environments for LGBTQ+ youth on school campuses” to support mental health among young people. Most respondents also supported DEI initiatives, connecting youth with supportive peers and providing gender-affirming mental health care.

Moving Forward

The past two years have presented significant challenges for the LGBTQ+ community, with a noticeable increase in discrimination and prejudice. Despite this setback, our survey highlights the unwavering belief among LGBTQ+ Americans that corporate support for their cause is crucial. The controversies surrounding brands like Bud Light and Target have not diminished the community's expectation that companies should actively advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

However, it is important to note that supportive advertising alone falls short. Respondents want companies to go beyond that by providing employee training in diversity, equity, and inclusion and including sexual orientation in corporate nondiscrimination policies. Lastly, the survey underscores the urgent need for mental health support for young LGBTQ+ individuals.

Overall, the findings highlight the persistent challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community and emphasize the role that acceptance, advocacy and allyship play in fostering their well-being and advancement.