La Raza Study Challenges Stereotypes

Polling finds evidence that Hispanics hold the same – if not better – views of gays and lesbians as the general population

A new study by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS) examining support among Hispanics for LGBT rights finds that Hispanics are as tolerant of LGBT people – and possibly more so – as the general population.

According to the study, ”LGBT Acceptance and Support: The Hispanic Perspective,” which was funded by the Arcus Foundation, a social justice and environmental advocacy organization, media portrayals highlighting splits between the LGBT and Hispanic communities were exaggerated. Among the factors the study examined were respondents’ attitudes toward and comfort with the LGBT community, the underpinnings of their beliefs regarding LGBT rights, and support for policies that advance LGBT rights.

”The research basically found that there’s no significantly greater degree of intolerance or non-acceptance of LGBT than there are in other populations,” said David Dutwin, the author of the report and vice president of SSRS. ”Looking at 2011 specifically, we find that Hispanics are right on par with the rest of the population.”

Specifically, 54 percent of Hispanics supported marriage equality, compared to 53 percent of the general population. And 55 percent of Hispanics supported adoption by gays. Gays and lesbians serving openly in the military was supported by 79 percent of respondents, and upwards of 80 percent supported laws preventing employment and housing discrimination, hate crime protections and health care and pension benefits for same-sex partners.

The survey did find Hispanics slightly less accepting of transgender people than of gays and lesbians, with only 55 percent of respondents rating their feelings toward transgender people as ”warm” or comfortable, versus 60 percent feeling that way toward gays and lesbians.

According to Dutwin, Hispanics who are more acculturated, meaning less tied to traditional values and for whom English the dominant language, are more likely to support LGBT rights and less likely to agree with statements like ”Children need a mother and a father.”

Similar to the general population, Hispanic males are less accepting than females, and Republican Hispanics are less likely than other groups to support LGBT rights. The study also showed a person’s religion tends to influence views of LGBT rights. For example, majorities of Hispanic Catholics, ”non-theists,” atheists, agnostics and those of non-Protestant faiths strongly or somewhat support marriage equality. Among Protestants, support falls to a minority 43 percent. Among ”born-again” Protestants, it’s 27 percent.

The report finds that associations and familiarity with gay and lesbian people influence a person’s comfort level or support for pro-LGBT policies. For every LGBT person someone knows, they are 4 points more likely to hold favorable opinions of LGBT people than a person who does not associate with gays and lesbians at all.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com