A new study commissioned by the LGBTQ rights organization GLAAD shows that attitudes toward LGBTQ people have taken a noticeably negative turn for the first time since the group launched its poll four years ago.
According to this year’s Accelerating Acceptance report, announced during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, straight Americans indicated increasing levels of discomfort when asked about relatively common situations, such as “Learning a Family Member is LGBT,” or “Seeing a Same Sex Couple Holding Hands.” In many cases, those numbers met, or even surpassed the original polling data points when GLAAD first conducted this survey in 2014. Similarly, there was an 11% jump of LGBTQ people who reported having personally experienced discrimination from from 2016 to 2017.
For GLAAD, the shift in attitudes can clearly be linked to the wave of anti-LGBTQ sentiment unleashed over the past year, including the election of President Donald Trump and noted homophobe Vice President Mike Pence. In an executive summary of the study, the group wrote:
This change can be seen as a dangerous repercussion in the tenor of discourse and experience over the last year. 2017 brought heightened rhetoric toward marginalized communities to the forefront of American culture. Policies and headlines ran that were anti-LGBTQ including the President’s proposed ban on transgender people entering the U.S. military, confirmation of a Supreme Court justice opposed to marriage equality, and the passage of a state law in Mississippi which allows businesses to legally deny service to LGBTQ families. LGBTQ people fell victims to violence in Chechnya, Egypt, Indonesia, and the U.S. mourned the death of at least 26 transgender women. LGBTQ visibility slipped in news and entertainment media – Americans can no longer see LGBTQ stories that change hearts and minds with the same frequency.
John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris polling company, which ran this year’s study, explained to the Washington Post that the uptick in negative sentiment is likely a product of a year in which people openly voiced opinions that might previously have been considered too offensive or bigoted for public airing.
“My first reaction to this was that there’s an unseen casualty of a tumultuous year,” he told the Post.
Despite the alarming shift away from acceptance and tolerance, GLAAD happily notes that the overwhelming majority of non-LGBTQ Americans still supported equal rights for the LGBTQ community in 2017—79%, a number that remained unchained since 2016.