The state lacks important legal protections for LGBT youth and adults.
Ohio’s legal landscape and social climate put the state’s 389,000 LGBT adults and 72,000 LGBT youth at risk of discrimination and harassment. The social, economic, and health effects of stigma and discrimination against LGBT people negatively impact Ohio’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.
“Ohio has an opportunity to create a more supportive climate for LGBT people,” said lead author Christy Mallory, State & Local Policy Director at the Williams Institute. For instance, policymakers could add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s non-discrimination and hate crimes laws, and ban the use of conversion therapy on youth.”
Many LGBT people in the state experience economic instability.
- 33% of LGBT adults in Ohio reported having an annual household income below $24,000, compared to 21% of non-LGBT adults, according to Gallup data. Similarly, 33% of LGBT adults in Ohio reported that they do not have enough for food compared to 16% of non-LGBT adults.
- 11% of LGBT adults in Ohio reported that they were unemployed compared to 5% of non-LGBT adults, according to Gallup data.
- The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 16% of transgender respondents in Ohio were unemployed, and 26% were living in poverty.
LGBT people in the state experience negative health outcomes associated with stigma and discrimination.
- LGBT adults in Ohio are significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder and to be current smokers than non-LGBT adults: 50% of LGBT adults in Ohio reported having been diagnosed with a depressive disorder compared to 22% of non-LGBT adults, and 33% of LGBT adults in the state are current smokers compared to 21% of non-LGBT adults, according to data from the 2017 Ohio Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. Depression and smoking are two health outcomes that have been linked to experiences of stigma and discrimination.
- 36% of LGB students in Cleveland, Ohio reported that they had seriously considered suicide compared to 15% of non-LGB students in the prior year, according to data from the 2017 Cleveland Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
- LGB students in Cleveland were also more likely than non-LGB students to report smoking cigarettes, drinking, and using marijuana in the prior year, according to data from the 2017 Cleveland 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 Ohio by 25% to 33.3% could benefit the state’s economy by $155.9 million to $207.9 million annually.
- Reducing the disparity in current smoking by the same proportion could benefit the state’s economy by $104.4 million to $139.2 million in increased productivity and reduced health care costs each year.
- Discrimination can lead to lower earnings and unemployment, which can result in increased reliance on public benefits. For example, discrimination in the workplace against transgender people annually costs Ohio approximately $448,000 in state Medicaid expenditures.