750,000 LGBT Floridians Vulnerable to Stigma and Discrimination

For Immediate Release
October 19, 2017

Media Contact
Rachel Dowd
dowd@law.ucla.edu
(310) 206-8982

Over 750,000 LGBT Floridians Vulnerable to Stigma and Discrimination; Experience Economic Instability and Health Disparities

Florida’s statewide Civil Rights Act does not currently prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

LOS ANGELES – Florida’s legal landscape and social climate put the state’s 663,000 LGBT adults and 100,000 youth at risk of discrimination and harassment. The social, economic and health effects of stigma and discrimination against LGBT people cost hundreds of millions of dollars each year, according to a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

The study, titled Impact of Stigma and Discrimination against LGBT People in Florida, documents the prevalence and impact of several forms of stigma and discrimination against LGBT individuals in the state, including harassment and discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations; harassment and bullying in schools; and family rejection of LGBT youth.

“Although a number of localities and businesses in Florida protect LGBT people from discrimination, Florida’s statewide Civil Rights Act does not currently include sexual orientation or gender identity,” says Christy Mallory, State & Local Policy Director at the Williams Institute and co-author of the report. “This creates a patchwork of uneven protections for LGBT people across the state.”

Earlier this week Florida lawmakers filed legislation to update the state’s Civil Rights Act, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Key findings of the report include

Economic Instability

  • 28% of LGBT adults in Florida do not have enough money for food compared to 19% of non-LGBT adults, according to Gallup data. Similarly, 26% of LGBT adults in Florida report that they do not have enough money to meet their health care needs compared to 20% of non-LGBT adults.
  • The median household income of same-sex couples in Florida with children under age 18 in the home is $12,300 lower than the median annual household income of married different-sex couples with children ($72,800 v. $85,100), according to Gallup data.
  • The 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 9% of transgender respondents in Florida were unemployed, and 12% had an annual household income of $10,000 or less.

Negative Health Outcomes

  • LGBT adults in Florida are significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, to be current smokers, and to report binge drinking than non-LGBT adults, according to data from the 2012 Florida Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.
  • LGB students in Florida were nearly four times more likely to have seriously considered suicide than non-LGB students in the prior year, according to data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
  • LGB students in Florida were also more than twice as likely as non-LGB students to report smoking cigarettes in the prior month and were also more likely to report drinking and marijuana use, according to data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Negative Impacts on the State’s Economy

  • Stigma and discrimination against LGBT people in Florida
    • Reduce employees’ productivity and employers’ ability to recruit and retain talented employees;
    • Increase costs associated with higher incidence of major depressive disorder, smoking, and binge drinking among the LGBT population; and
    • Reduce lifetime achievement of LGBT youth.
  • Reducing the disparity in major depressive disorder between LGBT and non-LGBT Floridians by 25% could benefit the state’s economy by $248.8 million; reducing the disparity in smoking by the same proportion could save $224.9 million; and reducing the disparity in binge drinking by 25% could save $135.7 million in increased productivity and reduced health costs each year.

“Creating a more supportive environment for LGBT people would likely reduce economic instability and health disparities experienced by LGBT individuals,” says Brad Sears, David Sanders Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute and co-author of the report. “That, in turn, would benefit the state, employers, and the economy.”

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The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.

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