Tim’m West, the executive director of the LGBTQ Institute / Courtesy photo

National Center for Civil and Human Rights Releases Second Southern LGBTQ Report

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights LGBTQ Institute, in conjunction with Emory University, has released the results of an online survey conducted between June 2021 and March 2022 aimed toward LGBTQ Southerners.


The survey covered various topics, such as an individual’s experiences in school and work, the discrimination they have faced, their political leanings and voting behavior, and activities individuals do with their free time outside school and work, such as travel and leisure. All individuals who participated in the survey were at least 18 years of age and lived in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, or West Virginia.


The 2022–2023 survey saw an increase in the representation of transgender and nonbinary respondents, as well as a more proportional representation of white versus BIPOC and multiracial respondents. Transgender and nonbinary respondents represented 25 percent of the total surveyed population, while in the 2017–2018 survey, they represented 17 percent. While the percentage of BIPOC respondents remained mostly the same between the two surveys, the percentage of white respondents decreased from 83 percent to 79 percent, meaning the results of this year’s survey more proportionately represented the BIPOC LGBTQ community. The majority of respondents were Georgia residents, with many of them living in urban areas and havind full-time employee, student, or retired status.


According to Dr. Giacomo Negro, one of the primary authors of the survey, the first version or wave of the survey conducted between 2017–2018 was by the Center in conjunction with Georgia State University, led by primary authors Eric R. Wright, Joshua Simpkins, and others. Dr. Negro said the surveys had some similarities in their content, but the second rendition was revised to include more questions and cover different topics. While the first version emphasized experiences in health care, the 2022 survey had more of a focus on school and work experiences. He also said the changed questions were not the result of an information gap or deficiency in the last article, but rather a reflection of the specific areas of interest the lead authors had when the second survey was written.


The survey revealed much about how members of the LGBTQ community are perceived and how they feel, what they experience, and how politically aware and active they are, among other topics.


Key findings:

• 10 percent of respondents reported having experienced some form of conversion therapy


• 23 percent of multiracial respondents, 22 percent of Black respondents, and 21 percent of transgender respondents reported having been the subject of targeting, harassment, or abuse from law enforcement due to being perceived as LGBTQ+


• 12 percent of young respondents (18–29) were denied bathroom access


• 20 percent of respondents reported having no perceived allies in their place of work or school


• 52 percent of trans respondents reported trying to “pass” as being non-LGBTQ to avoid discrimination


• 59.6 percent of respondents reported their political awareness as “knowing what is going on most of the time”


Tim’m West, the executive director of the LGBTQ Institute, said the center hopes to continue to conduct a similar survey in a few years. He noted one point of interest with future surveys will be having a more proportional representation of BIPOC and transgender or nonbinary respondents. West said one cause of this is the fact that many traditional LGBTQ spaces are white-led.


“My expectation and my commitment is that, if it went from 82 [percent of white respondents] to 78 [percent of white respondents], next time it can be 75 or 72 or 70 until it’s far more representative of what the population looks like,” he told Georgia Voice.


West said in the future he also wants to continue to use these surveys as a tool for advocacy. One way he’s already doing this is through activities like the LGBTQ Symposium, which will be part of the NAESM Conference happening in June.


“All of the panels and the discussions that we are going to do are going to relate back to the survey,” he said. While in previous years the Center has been seen as an academic and data-driven institution, West said he wants to flip the script by “letting the advocates lead the conversation and having academics respond.”


West said another initiative that has used survey data is the “You(th) Belong Program” from the LGBTQ Institute, which is meant to help educate, empower, and provide mentorship to LGBTQ youth.


West said he is committed to finding ways to continue to use data to create positive change for the LGBTQ community.


“Great data’s nice to have,” he said, “but if it’s not really leading to people experiencing more freedom, experiencing more equity in their lives, it doesn’t have any value to me in and of itself.”


You can read the full survey here