Research by GLAAD shows some non-LGBT Americans still report substantial levels of discomfort with LGBT co-workers, family, and neighbours, despite historic legal progress for marriage equality.
The polling was conducted on behalf of Harris in August and November, 2014 among over 2,000 US adults (aged 18+) each – of whom over 1,700 per survey indicated being straight, cisgender (referred to here as “non-LGBT Americans”).
While a majority of the public supports equal marriage protections, there remain large numbers of straight, non-transgender adults that still have a significant degree of discomfort surrounding actual weddings for same-sex couples.
One-third (34%) say they would be uncomfortable attending the wedding of a same-sex couple, with 22% saying they would feel very uncomfortable.
A substantially larger group (43%) responds they would be uncomfortable bringing a child to the wedding of a same-sex couple.
Beyond weddings for same-sex couples, the survey reveals that many are still uncomfortable simply seeing and interacting with same-sex couples.
A third of non-LGBT Americans (36%) say that just seeing a same-sex couple holding hands makes them uncomfortable.
The survey also evidenced resistance to LGBT parents by other parents in their community. Many straight, non-transgender parents say they would be uncomfortable with their child playing at a home with an LGBT parent – 40% for a transgender parent, 29% for a gay father and 28% for a lesbian mother.
A fifth to nearly a third of non-LGBT Americans are uncomfortable with common situations involving LGBT people. These range from simple things like having an LGBT person move in next door to more personal situations such as learning that a family member is LGBT.
Acceptance of the transgender community faces more resistance than does acceptance of the rest of the LGBT community. Most notably, a majority of non-LGBT Americans (59%) say they would be uncomfortable if they learned their child was dating a transgender person. More than a quarter (31%) say this would make them “very uncomfortable.”
“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,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO and President of GLAAD. “Accelerating acceptance will require the help of not just LGBT people, but also their allies – everyday Americans who feel strongly and take an active role to make sure that their LGBT friends and family are fully accepted members of society.”