As the decade draws to a close, a new report shows the past 10 years have been a period of dramatic gains in equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in America. Two-thirds of the 36 statistical indicators compiled in A Decade of Progress on LGBT Rights showed significant advances, including sharp increases in the number of LGBT Americans protected by nondiscrimination and family recognition legislation at the state level. Just over a quarter of the indicators were negative, and two showed mixed results. The report is a joint project of the LGBT Movement Advancement Project and the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr., Fund. Full text of the report is available here. Among the report’s key measures of progress:
- Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation: The number of states outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation increased 83 percent, from 12 to 22, between 2000 and 2009. The percentage of the U.S. population living in states banning discrimination based on sexual orientation soared from 24.5 percent to 44.1 percent, an 80 percent increase. In other words, today 134 million Americans are now living in states where discrimination based on sexual orientation has been outlawed, an increase of 65 million over the decade. (When local nondiscrimination laws passed by cities without statewide protections are included, the figure is over 50 percent of the U.S. population.) Fortune 500 companies that protect workers based on sexual orientation grew from 51 percent to 88 percent.
- Discrimination Based on Gender Identity: There was an even more remarkable increase in states outlawing discrimination based on gender identity and expression, which rose from just 1state in the year 2000 to 14 states representing nearly 30 percent of the population in 2009. The percentage of Fortune 500 companies that protect workers based on gender identity jumped even more, from just 0.6 percent to 35 percent.
- Public Opinion: The percentage of the public supporting the right of openly gay and lesbian people to serve in the military grew from 62 percent to 75 percent. Support for marriage equality has grown from 35 percent in 2000 to 39 percent today; there has been an even larger increase in support for relationship recognition that involves many of the rights of marriage, from 45 to 57 percent.
- Safer Schools: In 2000, only one state had a safe school law that specifically cited sexual orientation and gender identity/expression for protection; by 2009 that rose to 13states. The number of Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs in high schools grew from 700 to 4,700, a nearly six-fold increase.