On Jan. 25, 2018, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) released their fourth annual Accelerating Acceptance report and its consequential findings. This report serves as a national survey among more than 2,100 U.S. adults and is conducted on GLAAD’s behalf by The Harris Poll, in attempts to show the growth or decline in LGBTQ acceptance and issues.
2018 presented GLAAD with its first ever declining acceptance report. The report states that less than half of non-LGBTQ adults, 49 percent, reported being “very” or “somewhat” comfortable with LGBTQ people. A drop from 53 percent the previous year.
The report also found that 55 percent of LGBTQ adults reported experiencing discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity. This number sporting an 11 percent increase from the previous year. Other findings display a similar decline in acceptance and overall comfort level with the LGBTQ community at large.
After reading the full report and looking at the aesthetically pleasing, but saddening, accompanying graphics, I was, for lack of a better term, the opposite of shocked. Of course acceptance is down, 2017 was basically the year of polarity.
In contrast to the many articles that also discuss GLAAD’s newest report, I do not plan to use these statistics to bash President Trump’s administration. Although I have no doubts one could.
Nor do I plan on doing the opposite by acting surprised about the current state of the United States. Neither approach does anything to address the real issue of declining acceptance.
Rather, I have hopes this report can help the LGBTQ community feel as if their concerns with the past year are legitimized. Beyond that, this report has the potential to be a major wake up call to those who could serve as allies, instead of bystanders.
As GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis stated after the report was released, “In the past year, there has been a swift and alarming erosion of acceptance which can only be fought by being visible and vocal.”
While I find this response somewhat bland, the idea of fighting against hate and lack of acceptance cannot be overstated. This report cannot and should not serve as just another sad story reflecting how polarizing and disappointing 2017 was for minority communities.
On the other hand, it cannot and should not be used as a base for flowery comments of making 2018 a year of love. Unfortunately, that is just too unrealistic. However, what is not too unrealistic is 2018 being the year U.S. residents step up their game as allies.
The best case scenario for those who read GLAAD’s report is to use it as a source of motivation, not as an excuse to be disappointed in the country’s current political climate and administration. Too often these reports come out and people feel as if they can just say, “See, everything sucks and nothing changes.” That is where the biggest problem lies.
Usually this message does not even come from the LGBTQ community itself, but rather those who could be actively helping the group. Potential allies cannot let one year’s poor statistics discourage them from actively trying to stop discrimination. If anything, it is time to bounce back.