A new study from The Williams Institute, titled “LGBT Poverty In The United States,” shows that LGBTQ+ people of color are more likely to live in poverty than White people, and have statistically higher poverty rates than their same-race cisgender heterosexual counterparts. For example, 30.8 percent of queer Black people are living in poverty, compared to 25.3 percent of Black people outside the community. It also found that LGBTQ+ people who suffer from economic insecurity are more likely to be young people of color who identify as bisexual or transgender and are experiencing a disability.
The October 2019 study, which examines differences between sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) groups, is the first in a series of reports created based on the Pathways to Justice Project, which hopes “to provide a new lens on one of the most important measures of economic security—living on very low incomes.” The study looked at nearly 24,000 people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, across 35 states between 2014 and 2017.
“Once factors such as race, age, location, education, disability, language marital status, employment, health, and children are taken into account, we find that LGBT people are still more likely to experience poverty than their cisgender straight counterparts,” the report noted. But, gay men tend to do better financially, because they often have fewer children, higher education and live in cities where there are better economic opportunities.
Other key findings from the study:
Among LGB cisgender people, this gender disparity only holds true for Black lesbians (31.3 percent) and bisexual women (39.7 percent) when compared to Black gay (17.1 percent) and bisexual men (20.3 percent).
Almost half (48.4 percent) of Hispanic transgender people live in poverty, whereas 32.5 percent of Hispanic cisgender straight men live in poverty. This difference was not observed among Black respondents, for whom—despite the rates of poverty appearing similarly high among cisgender lesbians, bisexual women and transgender people when compared to cisgender straight women—only bisexual cisgender women’s poverty rates reached statistical significance. Transgender people and cisgender sexual minority women of color tended to have comparable poverty rates.
Only 7.6 percent of White cisgender straight men are poor, compared with 21.8 percent of Black and 32.5 percent of Hispanic cisgender straight men. For nearly all SOGI groups, people of color had significantly higher poverty rates than White people. The few exceptions to this rule were that cisgender bisexual women categorized as “other” in terms of race (meaning a combination of those who selected Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian, other, and multiracial) did not have statistically different poverty rates than their White counterparts, and bisexual Black and White cisgender men did not differ significantly.
The study identified some possible causes for these discrepancies and found that having lower levels of education, being single or partnered with a low-income person, being unemployed and having poor health all make poverty more likely for families and individuals.
To see the full report, click here.