Being a person of color is challenging in the United States. Being part of the LGBT communities can be difficult too.
Recently released research examining the intersection of anti-LGBT and racial discrimination highlights the “shockingly disproportionate harms” inflicted on LGBT people of color.
The National Black Justice Coalition led the report, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National LGBTQ Task Force, and Freedom for All Americans in collaboration with the What We Know Project, a research portal at the Center for the Study of Inequality at Cornell University.
It found “overwhelming consensus” that discrimination inflicts profound significant harm on LGBT people of color in various areas. Race-based bias leads to greater economic insecurity, poorer mental and physical health, and higher rates of suicidal thoughts.
Discrimination is also evident in the workplace. Even though a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of LGBT workplace protections.
According to the report, when applying for jobs, nearly a third of LGBT people of color report experiencing homophobic or transphobic harassment compared to 13% of white LGBT individuals. Queer people also face a greater risk of being victims of anti-LGBT discrimination when dealing with the police.
Another critical finding is geography. More than 5.5 million LGBT people of color live in the U.S., and about half live in states without protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The majority of Black LGBT Americans live in the South (51.4%, more than twice the share of any other region), where most states lack anti-discrimination protections.
“Twenty twenty-one has been a stark and stinging reminder that racism, and its strategic objective, white supremacy, is as defining a characteristic of the American experience as those ideals upon which we claim to hold our democracy — justice, equality, liberty,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, in a statement to SFGN. “We understand what it means to rise up and push back against a culture that tells us that we are less than, that our lives don’t matter.”
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill last month barring transgender females from playing on public school teams intended for student-athletes born as girls. The controversial law is sure to be challenged as unconstitutional. It highlights a pattern unfolding nationally as Republican-controlled states move to limit the rights of LGBT people, whose advocates were particularly annoyed that the Florida legislation was signed on the first day of Pride Month.
“We’ve heard and read about the killings of transgender people — Black transgender women in particular,” Smith said. “This year alone, we have lost at least 12 transgender members of our community. Many of our organizations have made progress in adopting intersectionality as a core value and have committed to being more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. But this moment requires that we go further — that we make explicit commitments to embrace anti-racism and end white supremacy, not as necessary corollaries to our mission, but as integral to the objective of full equality for all LGBTQ people.”