Key Findings from Black LGBTQ Community Survey, and webinar discussion, Feb 23, 2021
The Center for Black Equity (CBE) and Community Marketing & Insights (CMI) have released the results of the Black LGBTQ Community Survey. Key findings from the survey can be found below, and to receive a free copy of the full report, send your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
To attend a free webinar discussion (February 23 at 1:30 Eastern/10:30 Pacific) about the study and its application in business and organizations, register here.
Black LGBTQ Community Survey 2020-2021 Overview of Key Findings
Cannot Be Their Full LGBTQ Selves
92% of survey participants feel pride in being an LGBTQ person. However, while Black LGBTQ participants feel pride in being an LGBTQ person, many cannot fully be themselves at work, school, or in their neighborhood. Only 49% definitely agree that they can be themselves at school and work, and 47% definitely agree they can be themselves in their neighborhood. Overall, cisgender Black lesbian women appear to experience greater acceptance than gay men and bisexual participants. Transgender and non-binary participants report the least acceptance in the workplace, school, and their neighborhoods.
Support by Their Local Cities and Towns
70% of all participants said that their city or town was supportive of its local LGBTQ community. Fewer (55%) indicated that their city or town was supportive of its local Black community. And even fewer (42%) indicated support for the local Black LGBTQ community. Participants often find that they experience more community discrimination due to their race/ethnicity than being part of the LGBTQ community. Further, the combination of being Black and LGBTQ offers even lower levels of community support.
Being Out in Their Family
78% of participants felt at least somewhat accepted by their parents as an LGBTQ person. However, only 42% felt entirely accepted by their parents. There is a much higher level of acceptance among siblings (59% fully accepted). For participants who identify as transgender or non-binary, there is much less acceptance among family members. For example, parents were fully accepting of 45% of the cisgender survey participants vs. only 25% of the transgender and non-binary participants.
The Black LGBTQ Community Values Education
Black LGBTQ community survey participants value education: 48% of participants have a bachelor’s degree or greater. Importantly, 84% of participants pursued education after high school, either through graduating from college, currently in school, obtaining an associate’s degree, starting college but not graduating, or obtaining vocational training. Cisgender lesbians had the highest education levels, especially earning a master’s degree. Transgender and non-binary participants were least likely to have a four-year degree. However, there was a clear trend for transgender and non-binary participants to have started post-high-school education, but not yet receiving a four-year degree. This may indicate that more fiscal, emotional, and practical support is needed to ensure educational goal completion.
Household Debt and Student Loans
11% of all Black LGBTQ participants reported having no debt. Unpaid credit card debt is the most common form of debt. Of note is the substantial percentage of participants, especially Millennials, with student loans (44% of all participants and 64% of Millennials). The findings suggest that participants, especially younger Black LGBTQ adults, may be overburdened with student loan debt.
Changes in Household Finances
Black LGBTQ participants’ evaluation of their financial situation was mixed. Much like in the broader economy, COVID-19 has had very different economic impacts depending on the survey participant. 32% of the study participants said that they are doing better than last year, 41% about the same, and 27% worse. There is fiscal optimism that 2021 can only get better (61% said next year would be better). Black LGBTQ participants with a four-year college degree or higher were more likely to report doing better than those without (36% vs. 28%). Transgender and non-binary participants were the least likely to report doing better (24% vs. 33% for cisgender participants).
More study participants describe their relationship status as single than living with a partner or married. This has important implications because relationship status influences many aspects of daily life, including purchasing patterns. Black cisgender lesbian and bi+ women are more likely to be married or in a relationship than the cisgender gay and bi+ men or transgender and non-binary participants. 40% of the cisgender women report being married or living with a partner, compared to 30% of cisgender men, and 31% of transgender and non-binary participants.
Many Different Family Structures and Living Situations
While most of the study participants are single, only 40% indicated living alone. Most participants live with their partners, their children, parents, other family members, friends, or roommates. Of note—because older people often have more significant social isolation concerns—was that nearly half (49%) of the Baby Boomers lived alone.
Black LGBTQ community members face many forms of discrimination (racial, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and age discrimination). 76% of Black LGBTQ participants indicated at least one form of discrimination experienced in the past three years. Discrimination during consumer interactions and workplace discrimination were the most common. Just under half of the participants (47%) reported racial discrimination or prejudice from within the LGBTQ community during the past three years. The most common was during dating or in bars and nightclubs serving the community.
High Levels of Discrimination for Transgender and Non-Binary Community Members
Black transgender and non-binary participants report the highest levels of racial, gender, and gender identity discrimination across all related questions in the survey.
The vast majority of the Black LGBTQ study participants trend liberal (54% liberal and 31% moderate to liberal). However, 43% would describe themselves with some moderate leaning (moderate to liberal, moderate, or moderate to conservative). Only 3% consider themselves conservative. The vast majority of the Black LGBTQ study participants are politically active. The survey was conducted the month before the November 2020 U.S. General Election, resulting in increased political activity. 87% indicated they are registered to vote, and 84% said that they would vote in the November election. Fewer, 60% said they voted in the primary election.
Participants were asked to prioritize their concerns when considering voting for one political candidate over another. Overall, discrimination and police violence were the most pressing voter issues, followed by healthcare (including COVID-19). Economic concerns, local crime, foreign policy, and cybersecurity were the least pressing issues.
Black Lives Matter Protests and Engagement
75% of all Black LGBTQ study participants were involved in some type of Black Lives Matter protest or engagement. In general, younger community members were more engaged in activities, especially marches and protests.
A large number of Black LGBTQ adults in the United States are parents and grandparents: 28% of all participants indicated being a parent of a child of any age. The concentration of LGBTQ parents of children under age 18 is greater among lesbian and bi+ women (14%). Also, there is a large percentage of Black transgender and non-binary parents of children under age 18 (13%). About a quarter of Baby Boomers (23%) report having grandchildren. When asked about becoming parents in the future, 54% of Black LGBTQ Millennials would like to become parents sometime in the future.
Own or Rent a Home
A third (33%) of the Black LGBTQ participants own the home in which they live. This percentage is much lower than the 65% of all Americans who own their home, or the 42% of all Black Americans who own their home. Research from CMI and Freddie Mac in 2018 demonstrated that LGBTQ community members in the United States are less likely to own a home than the general population (49% of all LGBTQ people). Reduced homeownership rates for Black LGBTQ community members is the result of many factors: Income, employment, and racial discrimination contribute, along with the fact that Black LGBTQ people are more likely to live in big cities where homeownership is less common. Also, LGBTQ people are less likely to be married or have children, which are key drivers of homeownership. Over half of Black LGBTQ participants (55%) fear racial discrimination in the home buying process. There are also fears of discrimination due to sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and disability.
Online surveys are unlikely to attract community members currently experiencing homelessness. What is concerning is the very high percentage of Black LGBTQ community members in this survey (31%) who had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, especially among transgender and non-binary participants (44%). Other studies have examined the large percentage of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ. This data appears to confirm that LGBTQ people have far too much personal experience with homelessness at some point in their life.
The survey asked a broad question about 18 potential health concerns. Health concerns are gender and age-specific. What was striking about the results was the high level of mental health concern, especially among younger participants and transgender and non-binary participants. Physical and/or mental health effects resulting from racial discrimination was also a consistent concern for all demographic groups. Preventing or treating HIV/AIDS was a major concern for all the men in the survey. Getting to a healthy body weight was a concern across many demographic groups, especially for women in the survey. For transgender participants, getting gender confirmation surgery and starting, maintaining, or access to gender confirmation hormones were important health concerns.
Health Insurance Coverage
Results show that many Black LGBTQ community members do not have health care coverage (11% of all participants), and especially for participants under age 35 (20%).
Religion and Spiritual Beliefs
The majority of Black LGBTQ participants consider themselves spiritual (88%), but fewer than half consider themselves religious (35%). Most grew up in a religious family (76%). The survey asked the participants who grew up in a religious family if their childhood religious group would accept them as an LGBTQ person, and only 17% said yes. Thirty percent said they currently attend religious or worship services (16% Millennials vs. 40% Baby Boomers), and of those, only 56% are fully out to their religious community.
Some Disconnect with LGBTQ Organizations
When participants were asked if they feel connected to LGBTQ social or political organizations, only 29% definitely agreed and 36% somewhat agreed. These percentages point to a need for all LGBTQ organizations to be more representative and inclusive of the Black LGBTQ community, and to work towards addressing concerns that are specific to the community.
Companies in the U.S. Are Not Reaching the Black LGBTQ Community
92% of research participants agreed that companies supporting racial equality are more important than ever. In addition, 89% agreed that companies that support LGBTQ equality are more important than ever. However, Black LGBTQ participants also feel that companies are not doing a good job in their efforts to reach their community. Only 4% of research participants felt that companies in the United States do a good job at outreaching to the Black LGBTQ community.
How to Reach the Black LGBTQ Community
Genuinely listening and understanding the community ranked as the top initiative, followed by supporting non-discrimination laws and policies, acknowledging past discrimination, and conducting diversity and sensitivity training in the workplace were the highest priorities. Advertising in the Black LGBTQ media and sponsoring Black LGBTQ events were also important strategies to authentically reach the community.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.