LGBTQ Acceptance Among Young Adults Drops, Says GLAAD: 'Nothing Today Should Be Taken for Granted'

Jason Duaine Hahn

A new survey shows young adults in the U.S. are now less accepting of LGBTQ people, GLAAD announced on Monday.

The fifth iteration of the Accelerating Acceptance Index, conducted for the advocacy group earlier this year, asked 1,970 adults a series of questions to measure their reactions to a variety of settings involving LGBTQ people.

These scenarios include learning their family member, doctor and fellow member of a place of worship are LGBT, and viewing an LGBTQ co-worker’s wedding picture or a same-sex couple holding hands. Some of the questions focused on measuring the participant’s feelings in relation to their child interacting with LGBTQ people, such as finding out they’ve been placed in a class with an LGBT teacher or learning they had an LGBTQ-centered lesson in school.

According to the survey, conducted by The Harris Poll, non-LGBTQ adults who felt “very” or “somewhat” comfortable in those situations remained the same as 2018 at 49 percent. But for the group aged 18 to 34, the percentage of those who felt comfortable in all seven scenarios fell from 53 percent to 45. It’s the second year in a row that the number has dropped.

“Last year, when we saw an erosion in LGBTQ acceptance, GLAAD doubled down on our formula for making culture change, and this year that erosion is stemmed,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.

“The younger generation has traditionally been thought of as a beacon of progressive values,” she continued. “We have taken that idea for granted and this year’s results show that the sharp and quick rise in divisive rhetoric in politics and culture is having a negative influence on younger Americans and coinciding with a rise in hate and discrimination.”

GLAAD’s results come the same week as the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a series of violent confrontations in New York City between police and gay rights activists that helped to launch the gay rights movement in the U.S.

Two women embracing on a bridge | Getty Images

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John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll, agreed that the results were unexpected, considering young people are usually viewed as the group paving the way for equality and other issues.

“We typically see in our surveys that younger Americans can be counted on to advocate for issues like gender equality, immigration and climate change,” said Gerzema said in a statement. “So it is surprising to see a notable erosion of acceptance for the LTBTQ community, which counters many of the assumptions we make about their values and beliefs.”

He added: “In this toxic age, tolerance –– even among youth –– now seems to be parsed out. Nothing today should be taken for granted.”

Pedestrians walk across a rainbow-colored street crossing in Greenwich, London | Claire Doherty/In Pictures/Getty Images

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With the anniversary of Stonewall taking place June 28, Ellis hopes the country can band together to reverse the downward trend the survey founded in its last two years.

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall,” Ellis said, “LGBTQ people and allies must urgently address this cultural crisis by being visible and vigilant.”