Nearly a Million LGBT Texans at Risk of Stigma, Discrimination

LGBT adults and youth in Texas are at higher risk of experiencing stigma and discrimination, and the negative health and economic effects associated with them, owing to the legal and social climate in the state, a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law finds.

The study, The Impact of Stigma and Discrimination Against LGBT People in Texas (75 pages, PDF), found that LGBT individuals in the state faced harassment and discrimination in employment (55 percent of respondents to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey), housing (34 percent), and public accommodations, against which no statewide laws offer protection; harassment and bullying in schools; and family rejection. According to Gallup data, about a quarter of the 7770,000 LGBT adults in the state report that they are food insecure, compared with a fifth of non-LGBT adults, while 34 percent of LGBT adults have a household income below $24,000, compared with 26 percent of non-LGBT adults.

The report also found that LGBT adults and youth in Texas are more likely to experience negative health outcomes that have been linked to the experience of stigma and discrimination. According to 2015 Texas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey data, LGBT adults in Texas were significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder and to report binge drinking than non-LGBT adults. And LGB students in Houston and Fort Worth were about three times more likely to have seriously considered suicide in the past year than non-LGB students, and more than twice as likely to report smoking cigarettes, drinking, or marijuana use.

The study also found that stigma and discrimination against LGBT people negatively affect the state, its businesses, and its economy by, among other things, reducing employees' productivity and employers' ability to recruit and retain talent.

"State laws in Texas do not protect LGBT people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and local ordinances protect less than one-fifth of Texas's residents from such discrimination," said Christy Mallory, state and local policy director and Anna M. Curren Fellow at the Williams Institute, who co-authored the report. "Additionally, Texas ranks in the bottom quarter of states in terms of social support for LGBT people, although support is increasing over time."