Attitudes of Americans Toward Equal Protection for LGBTQ People Are Improving

Light bulbs hope

One challenge involved in sharing more good news involves finding it. In the context of secular activism, humanism, and related areas, it often seems scarce. But it is there, and it is important to acknowledge progress. Evidence that our efforts are working helps us keep doing what we're doing.

With that in mind, I wanted to highlight a bit of good news you might have missed. It deals with attitudes toward LGBTQ civil rights in the United States. Anti-LGBTQ discrimination has been in the news quite a bit. It isn't always easy to know whether this reflects widespread bigotry on the part of our neighbors or something else.

The Public Religion Research Institute (PPRI) released their 2022 American Values Atlas, which shows that attitudes toward LGBTQ rights are moving in the right direction. Some of the highlights quoted from the report include the following:

  • Eight in ten Americans (80%) favor laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing.
  • Overwhelming shares of Democrats (90%) and independents (82%), as well as two-thirds of Republicans (66%), favor nondiscrimination provisions for LGBTQ people.
  • Although residents of states in the South are slightly less likely to support nondiscrimination laws than the rest of the country, there are significant increases across regions since 2015.
  • A majority of Americans have consistently opposed permitting businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ people on religious grounds, and in 2022 nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) oppose allowing such refusals.
  • LGBTQ Americans are nearly twice as likely as the general population to identify as religiously unaffiliated (50% vs. 26%).

We all know that there is room for additional improvement. Too many LGBTQ Americans are still fearful of mistreatment, discrimination, and even assault. These fears are warranted. Religious refusal of service is still not recognized as discrimination everywhere. Too many politicians are inciting division and demonizing LGBTQ people. More needs to change if we are ever to reach equality.

But it is encouraging to see that we are making progress. What this tells me is that the tireless efforts by so many brave LGBTQ activists and allies are working. Attitudes are improving, and that matters. We will reach the point where most of the population rejects this hate and expects equality.

Political barriers remain, as there are too many conservative politicians trying to strip rights away from LGBTQ people. With enough of a shift in public attitudes, these efforts will become less effective. Rights that now seem fragile will become more secure. Religious beliefs will no longer be a successful excuse for discrimination. We will get there.

Did you have any idea that as many as 80% of Americans wanted anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ people? I didn't. Did you have any idea that most Republicans supported these laws? I didn't. I would have predicted numbers much lower. Why is that?

What if the United States was not as divided as often appears? What if our neighbors agreed with us on more issues than we thought they did? What if there was far more support for equality than many of us realized? I find these interesting questions to ponder.

Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay