Many LGBT adults say that society has become a lot more accepting of them over the past decade. However, perceptions of acceptance vary by age and sexual orientation.
Despite societal change, discrimination and exclusion continue to marginalize LGBT individuals in education, health care, housing, employment and poverty. This often leads to violence, harassment and poor mental and physical health.
What is the LGBT community?
The LGBT community refers to individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. This includes those who use the letter ‘Q’ to further broaden the community, a word that was originally used as a slur against homosexuals but has now been reclaimed by young people. The term LGBTQIA is also often used to include people who don’t use the sex identity or gender marker, including those who are nonbinary or agender.
As the world’s tolerance for LGBT people has grown, so too has the number of countries that have made a concerted effort to protect their rights. Some have banned discrimination, penalised homophobic hate crimes and enacted laws recognizing same-sex relationships. Others have developed training programmes for police, teachers and other personnel. But despite the global gains, almost 2.8 billion people live in societies where identifying as LGBT could lead to imprisonment or corporal punishment.
The status of LGBT communities is an important litmus test of how societies are evolving, and how they treat vulnerable groups. When the rights of LGBT people are under attack, it is a warning sign that the rights of other minority groups and critical members of society are next. This is why it is so important for businesses, particularly those that operate globally, to insist on respecting LGBT rights in all their operations and markets.
Why is the LGBT community important?
The LGBT community needs to be included in programs that aim to improve the overall health of communities. LGBT people are at higher risk for certain health threats and experiences, like bullying, substance use and mental health problems. Additionally, they face discrimination and stigma from society. The community should be supported with programs that include sensitivity training for school and government services.
Those who are not members of the LGBT community can still support it by being an ally. This means that they work to stay informed about the issues facing the LGBT community, and they fight for policies that protect them from discrimination. It is also important to raise awareness about the community and challenge any stereotypes that exist.
Despite these challenges, there is hope. The majority of LGBT adults believe that society has become more accepting of them in recent years. This is due to a variety of factors, including the fact that more Americans know someone who is lesbian, gay or bisexual. They also say that having good relationships, such as friendships with other LGBT people and hearing positive messages from well-known public figures, helps. Moreover, the community can be helped by having robust laws in place to combat discrimination and hate crimes. In addition, LGBT people can benefit from addressing intersecting oppressions, such as racism, sexism, ageism and ableism.
How is the LGBT community portrayed in the media?
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have been portrayed in the media in a number of ways. While some of these portrayals are positive, others are problematic and can contribute to prejudice and discrimination against LGBT individuals.
While some of the negative stereotypes about LGBT individuals have faded (such as homosexuals being sexual predators or child molesters), other stereotypes remain (such as gay men being stereotypically flamboyant and feminine). In addition, many LGBT characters are not given happy endings, which can send a message to viewers that being LGBTQ is not okay.
Despite the efforts of many organizations and activists, there is still much work to be done to ensure that LGBT people are accurately represented in the media. For example, Latinx and female LGBT characters are underrepresented in comparison to their population estimates.
Increasing the number of LGBT characters in the media is important because it can help to normalize and encourage social acceptance. It is also important for young children to see LGBT characters in the media so that they can grow up knowing that being LGBTQ is not only acceptable, but it is something to be proud of. Furthermore, research has shown that LGBT children with strong family support are less likely to experience suicidal thoughts. This is because having a positive image of themselves in the media can make them feel good about who they are.
What is the role of business in the LGBT community?
Business can play a pivotal role in helping to advance LGBTQ rights. By promoting non-discriminatory policies and engaging with coalitions to advocate for legislation, business leaders can help shape the discourse on social issues. Additionally, business can demonstrate their commitment to equality by donating resources and sponsorships to organizations that work for change.
The corrosive effects of anti-LGBTQ discrimination extend to all aspects of the economy. For example, when LGBT individuals are denied employment, prevented from advancing professionally and have to pay more for housing due to their marginalization, businesses, communities and society lose out on the contributions they make. Additionally, when LGBTQ students are harassed or denied access to education, they struggle to complete degrees and face higher student loan debt than their cisgender or heterosexual peers.
Moreover, LGBT people are often excluded from the home and community and suffer from social isolation and lack of support. These conditions can lead to mental and physical health issues that impede productivity. Finally, when sexual and gender identity discrimination is present in the healthcare system, it leads to higher rates of HIV infection, cancer, self-harm and suicide.
While there is still much to be done, the progress being made in favor of LGBT rights is encouraging. The majority of LGBT adults believe that societal acceptance of the community will improve over time. In fact, 71% of gay men and lesbians and 58% of bisexuals say that they believe society will be a lot more accepting 10 years from now.