A majority of millennials think that lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people face a significant amount of prejudice in America. Most young people—whether gay or straight, gender-conforming or otherwise—think it’s important to protect youth from bullying, and the larger LGBTQ community from discrimination in housing and employment.
At the same time, millennials are products of the world in which they live, and a surprising number of them say that “the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in our society is causing a deterioration of morality.”
That somewhat flummoxing finding is from the latest GenForward survey of 18-34-year-olds [PDF]. The project is led by Cathy Cohen, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. The first-of-its kind series gauges the views of a nationally representative sample of more than 1,750 young people, with big sub-samples of African- and Asian-American and Latinx respondents. (Technically, the oldest millennials are now in their late 30s, but the researchers use that term loosely.)
“The news is very positive in that millennials are generally supportive of a broad and expansive framework for rights and equality for the LGBT community,” said Cohen. “They believe that folks should be able to adopt. They should be able to serve in the military. And they shouldn’t face discrimination.”
The millennial generation is known for its racial and ethnic diversity—more than four in 10 identify as nonwhite. Other research suggests that they also tend to be more tolerant than earlier generations have been of people who hold identities and viewpoints that are different from their own. The latest GenForward survey found similar dynamics in younger people’s views of sexuality and gender. A majority of millennials across all ethnic groups think that transgender adults should be able to serve in the military, and that LGBTQ should be able to adopt kids. Majorities favor efforts to combat discrimination, want more funding for prevention and treatment of HIV, and think the United States should give safe haven to LGBTQ immigrants fleeing countries that criminalize their sexuality.
Across racial and ethnic lines, many millennials report that there’s “a lot” of discrimination in their own communities. That’s true of a majority of young Asian Americans (53 percent) and Latinxs (61 percent), a plurality of African Americans (43 percent), and 27 percent of white millennials.
When asked specifically about transgender people rather than people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, larger shares of young people say that transgender individuals face “a lot” of discrimination in our society. A majority of young blacks (51 percent) said as much, as did pluralities of Latinxs (48 percent), whites (45 percent), and 30 percent of Asian Americans.