One Equal World

Study Finds POC LGBT Individuals More Likely to Be Poor

Posted on: April 23, 2015

According to Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT People of Color, a report released this past Thursday, non-white LGBT individuals are more likely to be economically insecure than their white counterparts (or non-LGBT white individuals). The report suggests the most likely reasons for this are discrimination and the lack of legal protection faced by this community.

LGBT Triumphs of 2013

The report, authored by the Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project, estimates that 3 million American adults identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people of color. And while many non-white LGBT individuals face issues of poverty, the situation is most dire for transgendered people.

“Disproportionate numbers of LGBT people of color live in places that lack any explicit state-level protections for LGBT people,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project. “This means that LGBT people of color face a high risk of economic harm from anti-LGBT laws.”

The statistics are rather bleak. Black Americans who are part of same-sex couples are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as those in opposite-sex marriages. The average unemployment rate among the general LGBT population in the US is around 8%, but it’s at 15% for those who are black, 14% for those who are Latino, and 11% for those who are Asian or Pacific Islander.

Even so, these demographics have it better than transgendered individuals when it comes to poverty: 28% of trans Latinos, 18% of trans Asian or Pacific Islanders, and 34% of trans black people live in extreme poverty with annual household incomes of $10,000 or less.

Though the federal Civil Rights Act protects against workplace discrimination when it comes to “sex,” that’s not enough to help LGBT individuals, who often earn less and face other kinds of discrimination in the workplace, leading to increased poverty. Only 19 states protect against employment discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity; in the rest of the country, LGBT individuals can be fired on that basis.

The report argues for more studies and better laws, both at the state and federal level, to protect these communities and provide them with the same rights and opportunities as anyone else in the United States.


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