A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that the estimated 285,000 adults in the U.S. who identify as American Indian or Alaskan Native (AIAN) and LGBT report high rates of mental health concerns.
The study examines the demographics and well-being of AIAN adults, including separate findings for individuals who identify only as AIAN and those who identify as AIAN plus another race or ethnicity.
Results show that more than one-third (35%) of AIAN-only adults and 43% of AIAN-multiracial adults have been diagnosed with depression. AIAN women have the highest rates of depression, including more than half (51%) of AIAN-multiracial women.
In addition, researchers found that AIAN-multiracial LGBT people fare worse than their non-LGBT counterparts in many measures of economic and social vulnerability, including unemployment, income level, and food insecurity. All AIAN LGBT adults face disparities in physical health, such as asthma, heart attack, and other chronic health conditions.
“Economic insecurity and health status within the AIAN LGBT population may be related to factors that are unique to LGBT people and that are shared with the overall Indigenous communities,” said lead author Bianca D.M. Wilson, Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “It is critical that policies and service interventions consider the LGBT status and multiracial identities of AIAN adults.”
- There are an estimated 285,000 AIAN LGBT adults in the US. Approximately 6% of all AIAN-only adults in the country identify as LGBT.
- The AIAN LGBT adult population is younger than their non-LGBT counterparts: 57% of AIAN-multiracial LGBT adults are under age 35, compared to 33% of non-LGBT adults.
- More than 60% of AIAN LGBT adults in the U.S. live in the West and South.
- Over half (54%) of AIAN-only LGBT adults and 42% of AIAN-multiracial LGBT adults live in low-income households.
- 41% of AIAN-multiracial LGBT adults report experiencing food insecurity, compared to 29% of non-LGBT adults.
- Among AIAN-multiracial people, more LGBT adults are unemployed than non-LGBT adults (15% vs. 10%), and the difference is most pronounced among women (19% vs. 11%).
Mental and Physical Health
- Among AIAN-only adults, 35% of LGBT people have been diagnosed with depression, compared to 23% of non-LGBT people.
- Among AIAN-multiracial adults, 43% of LGBT people have been diagnosed with depression, compared to 25% of non-LGBT people.
- One-quarter (25%) of AIAN LGBT adults are uninsured, compared to 20% of non-LGBT adults.
- Nearly one-third (30%) of AIAN LGBT women with children are enrolled in Medicaid.
Discrimination and Stress
- One in five (20%) AIAN LGBT adults disagreed with the statement “You always feel safe and secure,” compared to 14% of non-LGBT adults.
- 57% of AIAN LGBT adults reported experiencing physical assault and threats, and 81% reported experiencing verbal assault or abuse at some point in their lives.
- The majority (55%) of AIAN cisgender LGB adults and 37% of AIAN transgender adults reported feeling connected to the LGBT community.
- About three-quarters (75%) of AIAN LGBT adults reported feeling supported through their social circles.
This study is part of the Williams Institute’s LGBT Well-Being at the Intersection of Race series, which examines demographic characteristics and key indicators of well-being, including mental health, physical health, economic health, and social and cultural experiences, of different racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. The series also includes analyses by region.