A new survey shows that overall acceptance of LGBTQ people among young adults has dipped for the second year in a row.
Released Monday, GLAAD’s 2019 Accelerating Acceptance Report asked 1,970 Americans over the age of 18 a series of questions with regard to their reactions to several different situations involving LGBTQ people. Participants were asked how they felt about seeing a same-sex couple hold hands, learning that a family member or a doctor identifies as LGBTQ and learning that their child has been placed in a class taught by an LGBTQ teacher, among other situations.
The survey ― conducted in January 2019 by The Harris Poll, a New York-based research firm ― found that non-LGBTQ adults who said they felt “very” or “somewhat” comfortable in all of those scenarios was 49%, reflecting no change from 2018. For the 18 to 34 demographic, however, that percentage fell from 53% to 45%.
As GLAAD representatives pointed out, 2019 marks the second year in a row that LGBTQ acceptance among Americans aged 18 to 34 has dropped. In 2017, that figure was at 63%. The most striking drop in acceptance appeared among young women, whose comfort level dropped from 64% last year to 52% in the newly published report.
In a statement issued Monday, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis linked the two-year decline to “divisive rhetoric both in politics and in culture.”
“Last year, when we saw an erosion in LGBTQ acceptance, GLAAD doubled down on our formula for making positive culture change,” she said.
Though Ellis didn’t cite specifics, GLAAD has reportedly documented more than 40 incidents of anti-LGBTQ hate violence since the start of 2019. Policy setbacks, such as President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military, as well as religious liberty laws that essentially allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers, were also likely to have an impact, she said.
“As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, LGBTQ people and allies must urgently address today’s cultural crisis by being visible and vigilant,” she said.
Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema felt similarly, noting that the results were at odds with younger Americans’ clear support of other progressive issues like climate change and gender equality.
“We count on the narrative that young people are more progressive and tolerant,” Gerzema told USA Today. “These numbers are very alarming and signal a looming social crisis in discrimination.”
In an email statement, he added, “In this toxic age, tolerance––even among youth––now seems to be parsed out. Nothing today should be taken for granted.”
Read the full results of GLAAD’s 2019 Accelerating Acceptance report here.