370,000 LGBT people in Michigan are vulnerable to discrimination

For Immediate Release
May 7, 2019

Media Contact
Rachel Dowd
dowd@law.ucla.edu
(310) 206-8982 (office) | (310 855-2696 (cell)

The state lacks important legal protections for LGBT youth and adults.

Michigan’s legal landscape puts the state’s 311,000 LGBT adults and 61,000 LGBT youth at risk of discrimination and harassment. The social, economic and health effects of stigma and discrimination against LGBT people negatively impact Michigan’s economy by tens of millions of dollars each year, according to a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

The study 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.

“Michigan has an opportunity to create a more supportive climate for LGBT people by, for example, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s hate crimes law, and banning the use of conversion therapy on youth,” said lead author Christy Mallory, State & Local Policy Director at the Williams Institute.

Key findings of the report include:

Many LGBT people in the state experience economic instability.

  • 28% of LGBT adults in Michigan reported having an annual household income below $24,000, compared to 20% of non-LGBT adults, according to Gallup data. Similarly, 25% of LGBT adults in Michigan reported that they do not have enough for food compared to 15% of non-LGBT adults.
  • 10% of LGBT adults in Michigan reported that they were unemployed compared to 5% of non-LGBT adults, according to Gallup data.
  • The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 19% of transgender respondents in Michigan were unemployed and 30% were living in poverty.

LGBT people in the state experience negative health outcomes associated with stigma and discrimination.

  • LGBT adults in Michigan are significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder and to be current smokers than non-LGBT adults: 44% of LGBT adults in Michigan reported having been diagnosed with a depressive disorder compared to 21% of non-LGBT adults, and 38% of LGBT adults in the state are current smokers compared to 20% of non-LGBT adults, according to data from the 2015-2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys. Depression and smoking are two health outcomes that have been linked to experiences of stigma and discrimination.
  • 53% of LGB students in the state had seriously considered suicide compared to 17% of non-LGB students in the prior year, according to data from the 2017 Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
  • LGB students in Michigan were also more than twice as likely as non-LGB students to report smoking cigarettes, drinking, and using marijuana in the prior, according to data from the 2017 Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Health disparities for LGBT people negatively impact the state’s economy.

  • Reducing the disparity in major depressive disorder between LGBT and non-LGBT people in Michigan by 25% to 33.3% could benefit the state’s economy by $122.5 million to $163.9 million annually.
  • Reducing the disparity in current smoking by the same proportion could benefit the state’s economy by $107.9 million to $143.8 million in increased productivity and reduced health care costs each year.
  • Discrimination can lead to lower earnings and unemployment, which can result in an increased reliance on public benefits. For example, discrimination in the workplace against transgender people annually costs Michigan approximately $256,000 in state Medicaid expenditures.

Read the report.

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