By Cathy Payne
Most lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults say Americans are becoming more accepting of them.
About 92% of LGBT adults say society has become more accepting in the past decade, asurveyreleased today finds. But 58% say they have been the target of slurs or jokes at some point in their lives. About 39% say they have been rejected by a family member or friend.
"Many are still searching for a comfortable, secure place in a society where acceptance is growing but is still limited," says report co-author Paul Taylor, executive vice president ofPew Research Center.
Pew conducted the online survey April 11-29 among a national sample of 1,197 adults who had previously identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
"Inclusion is growing over time," says Nicholas Sakurai, associate director of theLGBT Equity Centerat the University of Maryland in College Park. Being inclusive can mean not discriminating, respecting the name or pronoun that people choose for themselves and not assuming that someone is straight, he says.
The survey also found that 39% of LGBT adults say same-sex marriage has drawn too much attention from other issues that are important to the LGBT community.
John O'Connor, executive director ofEquality California, a Los Angeles-based advocacy organization for LGBT people, says same-sex marriage is a priority. "But it should not be prioritized at the risk of overlooking the many other important areas where we need to achieve progress," he says. "We look at the need for safe schools, anti-bullying efforts, transgender equality, protection for LGBT seniors, the entire arena of health, issues around LGBT families, and immigration."
Where people live affected their experience, the survey found. "There was less acceptance in the South," notes Kim Parker, a report co-author and associate director of Pew Social & Demographic Trends.
Among other findings:
• About 79% of LGBT respondents are Democrats or lean Democratic, compared with 49% of the general public.
• Just 18% of LGBT adults say they are "very happy," compared with 30% of adults in the general public.
• About 55% of LGBT adults say the USA is headed in the right direction in general, compared with about 32% of the general public.
This survey is part of Pew'sLGBT in Changing Timesseries, timed to the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions on same-sex marriage, expected later this month.
About 93% of LGBT adults favor same-sex marriage, the report says. Support among the general public is 51%, but that is a record high, according to aPew pollreleased June 6.
Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the not-for-profitFamily Research Council, based in Washington, D.C., urges caution about redefining marriage.
"Society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad," he says.
Sakurai says, "Having marriage equality is important." With marriage, the government sends people a message about what is acceptable, he adds.
"Marriage is a symbolic issue that resonates," he says. "I sort of feel the love."