LGBT Life in the South

GLAAD Southern Stories

LGBT people in the South continue to face obstacles at higher rates than the rest of the country. Yet LGBT Southerners are resilient and continue to thrive.

For first-hand accounts of being LGBT Southerners, check out the original short documentary series, GLAAD Presents: State of Change below. Check back for additional videos in the six-part series. More are on the way:


Consider this:

 

  • Across the board, people in the South showed more discomfort with LGBT people than those in the U.S. overall. Many of the responses demonstrated discomfort levels at 5 to 6 points higher in the South than in the country as a whole.
  • 40% of respondents in the South listed discomfort with attending a same-sex couple's wedding. It jumped to 50% discomfort when bringing a child to the same wedding.
  • Levels of discomfort concerning issues related to transgender people were highest, both in the South and with the general U.S. population.

Nondiscrimination:

There are no statewide protections for employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, several local governments across the south have enacted nondiscrimination ordinances. Check out a few of those ordinances in Houston, Texas; Oxford, Mississippi; and Broward County, Florida.

Mississippi is the only state to pass a "license to discriminate" bill that allows businesses to refuse to do business with LGBT people. But several Mississippi businesses have made statement by displaying signs in their windows reading, “We Don’t Discriminate. If you’re buying, we’re selling.”

Schools:

North Carolina and Arkansas have safe school laws that protect students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Georgia has a school policy that prohibits bullying based on sexual orientation.

Six southern states have anti-LGBT laws in the schools. These laws may prohibit school bullying or nondiscrimination policies from listing protected characteristics. They may also prohibit students or teachers from talking about LGBT people.

Dozens of schools, colleges, and universities across the south went purple for Spirit Day.  

Family:

Parenting by same-sex couples is more common in the south. But same-sex couples face legal restrictions in adoption and foster care.

Support for marriage equality has been growing slowly across the country, but southern support for marriage equality is the lowest in the nation, hovering just below 50%.

No southern state allows employees leave to care for a same-sex partner. However, individual corporations may allow employees leave, based on company policy.

Public Life:

Five southern states have openly LGBT public officials. Florida has the third most openly LGBT public officials in the country at 25 (tied with Illinois). Georgia elected the nation's first state legislator who was openly lesbian and African-American.

When Crystal Moore, a police chief in Latta, South Carolina, was fired for being a lesbian, the city rallied around her until she was reinstated.

Dozens of local and regional LGBT organizations build community and provided resources for LGBT southerners.

HIV & AIDS:

All southern states, except for Texas, have a law criminalizing exposure or transmission of HIV. If convicted, people can face possible prison time or registration as a sex offender.

 

 

Reporting on LGBT people in the South:

GLAAD is publishing guides for journalists reporting on LGBT people in six Southern states. Check back to find the most recent publications. 

Recent news from Southern Stories

Guía de Medios GLAAD: Cómo Hablar Sobre Pulse | May 3, 2018

El tiroteo masivo ocurrido en la discoteca Pulse el 12 de junio de 2016, en Orlando, Florida, le arrebató la vida a 49 personas y dejó 53 heridos. No sólo fue unos de los ataques con mayor número de muertos en la historia de los Estados Unidos, sino también es el incidente más violento y fatal en contra de la comunidad LGBTQ en la nación.

SayTheirNames

GLAAD calls on Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to veto anti-LGBTQ Senate Bill 1140 | May 3, 2018

SB 1140 would allow adoption and foster care agencies to turn away LGBTQ couples and deny kids good homes.

Amid nationwide rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation on the state level, GLAAD and Equality Florida release media guide | January 10, 2018

The guide contains story leads, a glossary of terms and definitions frequently used in reporting, terms to avoid, and common pitfalls – useful for the convening of the Florida State Legislature on January 9. It also includes a general timeline outlining Florida’s history on LGBTQ issues from 1972 to today

Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to Mississippi anti-LGBTQ law | January 8, 2018

HB 1523 allows individuals, businesses, and religious-affiliated organizations to openly discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community

Supreme Court refuses to take up Texas case undermining marriage equality | December 4, 2017

SCOTUS upheld a ruling threatening spousal benefits for LGBTQ couples by declining to hear Pidgeon v Turner

LGBTQ organizations across the U.S. South go purple for #SpiritDay | October 23, 2017

LGBTQ advocacy organizations throughout the U.S. South joined GLAAD by going purple for #SpiritDay this year.

GLAAD condemns State Rep. Betty Price for suggesting Georgians living with HIV and AIDS should be quarantined | October 20, 2017

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, calls on Rep. Betty Price to apologize and denounce her vicious statement 

Wells Fargo pledges to go purple for #SpiritDay | October 18, 2017

This October 19, Wells Fargo is a proud Presenting Partner of Spirit Day. Wells Fargo is firmly committed to standing against bullying and supporting efforts to end LGBTQ harassment. No child deserves to be bullied, and by addressing this issue, Wells Fargo hopes to help create an environment where all students can thrive and find opportunity. They have been a consistent supporter of Spirit Day.

Mississippi’s HB 1523 becomes law today and allows residents to legally deny services to LGBTQ people | October 10, 2017

HB 1523 cites the same so-called “religious exemption” argument as the Department of Justice’s recent anti-LGBTQ guidance

Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn’s anti-LGBTQ activist history | October 5, 2017

GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today released the following background on Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn which highlights her anti-LGBTQ activist record during her time as a public servant. This backgrounder is in response to media coverage of Blackburn’s decision to run for the open seat in the U.S. Senate following the unexpected retirement of current Senator Bob Corker.