By Michael Nam
Millennials, defined as Americans born between 1980 and 2000 according to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey, show a greater openness to sexual and gender identity compared to the larger populace. With the wider population becoming more accepting of LGBT rights, this generation of young Americans signals an even greater shift going forward.
According to the survey, ‘How Race and Religion Shape Millennial Attitudes on Sexuality and Reproductive Health’:
1 percent of respondents identified as lesbian
2 percent as gay
4 percent as bisexual
1 percent as ‘other’
1 percent as transgender
8 percent of millennial respondents claimed an identity on the LGBT spectrum. This response is more than double the general surveys conducted by the Williams Institute in 2011 or Gallup in 2012, which showed LGBT-identifying respondents as 3.8 percent and 3.4 percent of the population, respectively. In 2013, the CDC found 3.4 percent of adultsidentified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or “something else.”
When Indiana passed what appeared to be anti-LGBT legislation, the national uproar took that state’s governor and legislature by surprise. Allegedly, they were unaware of how the landscape had dramatically shifted. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll in March found 59 percent of Americans now support same-gender marriage.
Mirroring the changing views of the public at large, businesses have begun to take firm stances in favor of LGBT rights, in both the workplace and in the community. DiversityInc Top 50 companies including Eli Lilly and Company,Anthem (formerly WellPoint),andCummins spoke out forcefully on behalf of LGBT rights. Hugh Grant, chairman and CEO for Monsanto, said in response to the Indiana debacle, “We are committed to recruiting, hiring, retaining, and promoting employees from all dimensions of diversity, including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression and we oppose discrimination of any kind.”
Laws similar to Indiana’s are based ostensibly on the idea of protecting religious liberty. But the PRRI survey also shows 73 percent of millennials support legal protections for lesbian and gay people in terms of discrimination in housing, jobs, and public accommodations, with 72 percent feeling the same way for transgender discrimination, and large majorities among religious breakdowns:
80 percent Black Protestant
82 percent white Catholic
81 percent Hispanic Catholic
83 percent religiously unaffiliated
78 percent white mainline Protestant
The two millennial groups that didn’t show an overwhelming majority in favor of anti-discrimination regulation, Hispanic Protestants and white Evangelical Protestants, still had majorities of 66 percent and 51 percent, respectively.
The view of diverse sexual and gender identities has changed immensely in just a few short years, and outright support for LGBT rights shows commitment to an issue for which future leaders, employees, and consumers have already embraced. The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for LGBT employees have embraced this future with them.
Video: ‘How Race and Religion Shape Millennial Attitudes on Sexuality and Reproductive Health‘ Presentation.