Today, President Biden signed a sweeping executive order directing federal agencies to adopt a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including in federal employment, policies programs, and services. This is the first day one executive order by a President to address LGBT people specifically and the first-ever executive action to mention those who identify as “queer” by name.
According to Williams Institute research, 13 million LGBTQ youth and adults live in the US. Fewer than half of them are currently covered by state-level laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTQ people continue to face discrimination in all areas of their lives. Recent Williams Institute research has documented discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, public accommodations, health care, and other settings.
Nearly 40% of LGBT adults in the U.S. are people of color. Adults who identify as LGBT are more racially and ethnically diverse than the general population. Many LGBT people of color are particularly vulnerable to poverty, food insecurity, and homelessness. A 2019 study found both LGBT and non-LGBT racial minorities had higher rates of poverty than white people.
“Economic insecurity is notably high at the intersection of race and sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Bianca D.M. Wilson, Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “Policies to secure racial equity must take into account the unique needs and experiences of LGBT people of color, who are often particularly vulnerable based on their multiple marginalized identities.”
Key findings from Williams Institute research include
- An analysis of data collected by Gallup found that 60% of LGB people report being fired from or denied a job compared to 40% of heterosexual people.
- The same analysis found that 15% of LGB people report being prevented from moving into or buying a house compared to 6% of heterosexual people.
- Stigma and discrimination increase risk for mental distress, mental, health problems, suicide, and lower social wellbeing among LGB people compared to their non-LGB counterparts.
- 17% of LGB adults and 30% of transgender adults have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, compared to 6% of the general population.
- 22% of LGBT adults live in poverty in the U.S. compared to 16% of non-LGBT people.
- 9% of LGBT adults are unemployed compared to 5% of non-LGBT people.
- 27% of LGBT adults experience food insecurity compared to 17% of non-LGBT adults.
LGBTQ people of color are even more likely to experience economic hardships.
- Nearly 40% of LGBT people are people of color, including Latino/a (22%), Black (12%), Asian (2%), Native American/Alaskan Native (1%), Hawaiian Native/other Pacific Islander (1%).
- Among the transgender population, 16% identify as Black, 21% identify as Latino, and 8% identify as another race or ethnicity.
- LGBT people of color are more likely to live in poverty than white LGBT people: 37% of Latino/a LGBT people, 31% of Black LGBT people, 23% of Asian LGBT people, and 22% of multiracial LGBT people live in poverty, compared to 15% of white LGBT people.
- Among LGBT people, 38% of multiracial people, 37% of Black people, and 32% of Latino/a report not having enough money for food in the past year, compared to 22% of white LGBT people.
- LGBT people of color have similar or higher rates of unemployment compared to white LGBT people: 11% of Black LGBT people, 9% of Latino/a people LGBT people, and 7% of LGBT Asian LGBT people are unemployed, compared to 7% of white LGBT people.
“President Biden’s directive will impact the lives of LGBTQ people nationwide,” said Christy Mallory, legal director at the Williams Institute. “It will ensure that transgender students have access to facilities consistent with their gender identity in schools, that LGBTQ people have access to health care at a critical time, that transgender people are not turned away from shelters, and much more.”