CNN Dialogues: Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender: Has More Openness Led to More Acceptance?
On December 14 at 7pm at Grady High School Theater, CNN Dialogues—our joint program with Emory’s James Weldon Johnson Institute and CNN—will turn its attention to LGBTQ issues. Soledad O’Brien will moderate our deep dive in to the question of whether more openness in society has led to more acceptance with panelists Robin Brand, LZ Granderson, Donna Rose, and Johnny Weir.
In 2010, for the first time, American public acceptance of gay relationships crossed the 50% mark, measuring 52% in the spring of that year according to Gallup. That was a 12% jump since 2001. See more about that data here
What’s behind those numbers? And what of the 48% who identified gay relationships as “morally wrong”? Gallup’s numbers, and gay relationships, are just the beginning of a conversation. As with any shift in public opinion, the changes are attributable to the ways in which people see the issue playing out in their own lives, in the schools their children attend, in the benefits their colleagues can access, and in the personal stories of struggle in individual circles.
Schools are the incubator of what’s next, and parental involvement drives a lot of public opinion. In 2009, the National Education Association released a study of the status of LGBTQ issues
in our public schools. At that point there had been a rash of bullying and violence among teens, a trend which continues more than two years later. In their report they cite students, regardless of identity or group, are victimized by discriminatory acts in their midst, the bullying and harassment LGBTQ students is linked to declining academic performance, increased truancy, homelessness, anxiety, depression, and suicide. Youth of color who are LGBTQ are at elevated risk of harassment and social, familial, or community estrangement. Concern about school violence and safety of future generations is a contributing factor to changing priorities about LGBTQ issues in our communities.
Changing definitions of the family structure and personal familiarity with different families have led to coalitions and alliances among groups for marriage equity, access to benefits and health insurance. The group Beyond Marriage sought to codify the case for a revised societal understanding of families and the rights and benefits afforded them. Their statement and petition brought single parent groups, unmarried couples, adoptive and foster families, and a variety of senior living arrangements to the same table as the LGBTQ groups fighting for marriage equality. You can read more about their point of view and political and social supporters here
. The Human Rights Campaign has a variety of maps
that show where the 50 states’ laws are on marriage, second parent adoption, benefits administration, hospital visitation and a host of other issues that affect people’s everyday lives.
For many people, LGBTQ openness and acceptance is a question of faith. The Pew Research Center’s Forum of Religion and Public Life compiled a brief summary of the 16 top religions in the US and their current position on homosexuality, marriage rights and their instructions to their clergy. You can read about your faith and others’ here
I hope this quick overview begins to raise the issues of interest to you in a LGBTQ discussion, and that you will support our work bringing vital conversations to the community through CNN Dialogues. Please buy your tickets
and plan to join us on December 14 at 7:00 pm.