Conventional wisdom goes: The young will lead when it comes to matters of tolerance and acceptance regardless of race, color, creed—or sexual orientation. But according to GLAAD, that conventional wisdom has been turned on its head, and Donald Trump is to blame.
GLAAD’s fifth annual Accelerating Acceptance Index, conducted by the Harris polling firm, found that when it came to seven key areas indicative of acceptance of LGBTQ people, the 18-to-34-year-old demographic was the only one to drop in the level of acceptance, the Daily Beast reports.
As the Daily Beast explained, the study looked at seven “acceptance levels”:
learning a family member is LGBT, learning one’s doctor is LGBT, having LGBT members at one’s place of worship, seeing an LGBT co-worker’s wedding picture, having one’s child placed in a class with a LGBT teacher, seeing a same-sex couple holding hands, and learning one’s child has a lesson on LGBT history in school.
Among 18-to-34-year-olds, the GLAAD survey found that the percentage of those who said they were “very” or “somewhat” comfortable in the seven situations dropped from 53 percent in 2018 to 45 percent this year, according to the Daily Beast.
“We progressives have taken young people, the next generation, for granted, while conservatives have targeted and tried to pull them in,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO, told the Daily Beast. “They have robust college-level programming where they go after millennials on college campuses to incite hate and discrimination. As an organization driving acceptance, we have to look very closely at this.”
Of note, young women ages 18-34 were the driver of the decline in acceptance levels among that age demographic, GLAAD found, with that group showing a double-digit decline in overall comfort level, from 64 percent last year to 52 percent this year, the Daily Beast reported.
GLAAD conducted focus groups after the survey to delve deeper into the statistics. The LGBTQ advocacy group found two factors negatively impacting 18-to-34-year-olds’ views.
The first factor: Donald Trump and the polarizing and divisive nature of his rhetoric and policies.
“Look at this current administration we’re living under, and its culture of hate and discrimination,” Ellis told the Daily Beast, continuing: “If we had an administration helping people, making them understand, and bringing together, not dividing people, we’d be in a much more different position than we are now.”
GLAAD also said “newness,” or an unfamiliarity with LGBTQ identities or issues, was a second factor when it came to younger people.
“Newness,” Ellis said, “takes a while to turn into acceptance. They’re interfacing with new gender identities and sexual orientations, so that takes a minute to get used to.”
In the meantime, Ellis said GLAAD was not giving up on young people, telling the news site that the organization plans to do outreach to younger men and women via platforms where they can be found.