Countering popular assumptions that Hispanics are more anti-gay than other segments of society, a new report co-released by NCLR (National Council of La Raza) and Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS) finds that Latinos are, in fact, as open and tolerant, if not more tolerant, than the general population in the U.S. toward gays and lesbians.
The report, LGBT Acceptance and Support: The Hispanic Perspective, offers an in-depth look at how Latinos view gays and lesbians within their own community and their level of support for LGBT issues.
The report, funded by the Arcus Foundation, notes that Hispanics are actually slightly more inclined to support legal same-sex marriage and to be more accepting of gays and lesbians in society than most Americans. Also, Latinos are just as likely as any other group in the U.S. today to identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.
“There is a clear misperception among the general population about where Latinos stand on LGBT issues, partly because the media pushes this narrative that the culture and values of Latinos and LGBT progress are simply incompatible,” said David Dutwin, Vice President of SSRS and author of the report. “Such misperceptions manifest in story after story about a particular Hispanic group opposing a gay rights bill, even though this anti-gay sentiment is not reflective of all Latinos. In reality, as society is evolving on LGBT issues and becoming more accepting of this community, so too are Hispanics.”
However, Dutwin points out that Latinos also mirror the general population in that there are groups within the Hispanic community that are more intolerant than others. The highly religious and those less familiar with American cultural values in particular tend to hold less accepting views of LGBTs. Dutwin notes that religious communities that insulate themselves are particularly rigid in their attitudes concerning gays and lesbians.
“Still, across the board, we’re seeing that exposure to the LGBT community is really the key to acceptance and tolerance for Latinos,” added Dutwin. “Many Hispanics come from countries where gays and lesbians are less upfront about their sexuality, so that enables this discomfort toward LGBTs to persist. But the longer these Hispanics live in the U.S. and the more they come into contact with gays and lesbians, the more likely they are to accept them and support pro-LGBT policies such as same-sex marriage.”
Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at NCLR, said that the findings are important and should be discussed and shared widely.
“Latinos, like other Americans, have come a long way in acceptance of the LGBT community,” Rodriguez said. “Without a doubt there is work to be done within our own community to promote acceptance and tolerance, but this report is a strong indication that we are moving in the right direction.”