"Closing the gap to full acceptance of LGBT people will not come from legislation or judicial decisions alone, but from a deeper understanding and empathy from Americans themselves. Accelerating acceptance will require the help of not just LGBT people, but also their allies -- everyday Americans who feels strongly and take an active role to make sure that their LGBT friends and family are fully accepted members of society."
- Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO
Why the South?
In late 2014, GLAAD commissioned Harris Poll to measure attitudes towards LGBT Americans. What we found is that even though 2015 has been (and is poised to continue to be) an historic year for the rights of LGBT Americans, beneath legal and policy progress lies a layer of uneasiness and discomfort. While the public is increasingly embracing LGBT civil rights and equal protection under the law, many are still uncomfortable with having LGBT people in their families and the communities where they live. Within these numbers we find that Southerners feel significantly more discomfort about their LGBT family, friends, and neighbors than is found in other regions of the country.
Americans' attitudes and behavior on LGBT equality are not just influenced by what they see and hear, but who they know. GLAAD's Southern Stories initiative tells the stories of LGBT people and their allies in the South to create a cultural shift towards LGBT acceptance and understanding in the region.
Southerners continue to report higher levels of discomfort in situations with LGBT people, compared to the general US population.
Complacency with issues facing the LGBT community is just as strong in the South as in the rest of the US. The one exception was that non-LGBT Southerners are more likely to believe that politicians support pro-LGBT policies than the general American population.
Southerners are slightly more unconcerned or unaware of important issues facing the LGBT community than the rest of the country.