Hope Springs in the South

Advocate
By Ben Needham
March 28, 2016

Data shows that the Deep South has been steadily growing in its acceptance of LGBT equality for the past decade, highlighting some of the strong work being done by LGBT activists and allies to change individual hearts and minds and promote inclusive cultures. Despite this, the Human Rights Campaign has been tracking an onslaught of nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills introduced in 34 states. A high concentration of these bills have been in the South, the region of the country in which 35 percent of LGBT people live — more than any other region in the country.

A new report by the Williams Institute shows that public support for LGBT people and their equality is growing in every state in the South —and has been steadily on the rise for the past 10 years. Despite this growth, the study indicates that LGBT people in the South are more likely to lack employment protections, live below the poverty line, and struggle to put food on their tables. The report also juxtaposes the high level of HIV experienced among men who have sex with men in the South compared with other regions and the fact that nearly one in four LGBT individuals in the South lacks health insurance.

This data reinforces how important it is that we invest resources and energy into efforts to expand LGBT equality across the Deep South. This is precisely the reason HRC launched Project One America, an program currently focused on Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi, two and a half years ago.

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