Press

Task Force releases largest-ever national survey of Asian and Pacific Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans

Date: 
May 10, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

Study reveals disturbingly high rates of discrimination and harassment

Hate violence and harassment, media representation, marriage equality and immigration found to be most important issues facing community

Download the report and related fact sheets at
 http://www.thetaskforce.org/reports_and_research/api_study

“When hate violence and harassment are cited as the community’s top concern and nearly one in five survey respondents has experienced physical harassment for being either Asian/Pacific Islander or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, it underscores the need for Congress to pass and the president to sign federal hate crimes legislation.”
     — Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

WASHINGTON, May 10 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute today released a historic study, Living in the Margins: A National Survey of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, based on data from the largest-ever national survey of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. Among the disturbing findings: 75 percent of respondents reported experiencing discrimination and/or harassment based on their sexual orientation and 85 percent reported experiencing discrimination and/or harassment based on their race or ethnicity.

“The lives of Asians and Pacific Islanders are complex, and they are made invisible by popular perceptions of our community as ‘the model minority.’ This report helps shatter those myths and raises important issues from which we as a community can and need to mobilize,” said Mala Nagarajan of Trikone-Northwest in Seattle, Wash.

“When hate violence and harassment are cited as the community’s top concern and nearly one in five survey respondents has experienced physical harassment for being either Asian/Pacific Islander or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, it underscores the need for Congress to pass and the president to sign federal hate crimes legislation,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Living in the Margins is based on analysis of survey data from 863 respondents who live in a total of 38 states and the District of Columbia in a pattern that closely reflects the distribution of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. This online survey was conducted from June through September 2006 in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. It included a variety of questions focusing on basic demographic information, experiences of discrimination and/or harassment, policy priorities and political behavior. Respondents were recruited through invitations on listservs and Web sites created by API LGBT community organizations in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Honolulu. Special appeals were also made to increase participation from traditionally underrepresented groups, including South Asians, Pacific Islanders, Koreans, women, transgender people and elders.

“As the Asian and Pacific Islander community grows in size and clout, we cannot leave behind Asians and Pacific Islanders who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We are a part of both the API and LGBT communities and we raise our voices for inclusion in national debates around comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform, punitive bans on marriage and hate violence that tears our community apart. We are silent at our own peril,” said Doreena Wong, co-chair of API Equality–Los Angeles.

“Asian and Pacific Islander LGBT community members report pervasive harassment in the form of homophobia in the API community and racism in the LGBT community. They are concerned with comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform, how they are portrayed in the media, and protecting their families and themselves from violence and harassment,” said Alain Dang, a Task Force policy analyst and the study’s lead author. “These findings add to the growing body of evidence that support the need for not only legislative intervention, but community introspection.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Nearly every respondent (98 percent) had experienced at least one form of discrimination and/or harassment in their lives: 75 percent reported that they had experienced discrimination and/or harassment based on their sexual orientation and 85 percent reported experiencing discrimination and/or harassment based on their race or ethnicity.
  • The most important issues facing API LGBT Americans are hate violence/harassment, media representation, marriage equality and immigration.
  • Nearly all respondents (89 percent) agreed that homophobia and/or transphobia are problems within the broader API community. In addition, 78 percent agreed that API LGBT people experience racism within the predominantly white LGBT community.
  • API LGBT Americans are very politically active, with 67 percent reporting that they planned to vote in the 2006 midterm election. Approximately 20 percent reported that they were ineligible to vote. Strong majorities of respondents also reported that they participate in other political activities, including signing petitions, participating in marches or rallies and contacting their elected officials.
  • Only 50 percent of respondents said that English was their native language. Mandarin (11 percent), Cantonese (8 percent), Tagalog (6 percent) and Vietnamese (5 percent) were the most frequently cited native languages. Nearly all LGBT informational and advocacy materials are produced in English. Few resources are printed in any Asian language.

Demographics of respondents:

  • More than a dozen ethnicities were represented in the sample, including Chinese (40 percent), Filipino (19 percent), Japanese (11 percent) and Asian Indian (10 percent). Smaller numbers of Vietnamese, Korean, Hawaiian, Malaysian, Thai and Pakistani respondents also participated. These ethnic groups are Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, a term that encompasses a vast collection of ethnic groups with unique histories, cultures and migrations within both their Asian or Pacific Island ancestral country of origin and the United States.
  • Fifty-three percent of the participants identified as men, 41 percent as women and 10 percent as transgender. This adds up to more than 100 percent because respondents could select more than one option.
  • Forty-seven percent of respondents self-identified as gay, 19 percent as lesbian and 9 percent as bisexual. Twenty percent identified as “queer,” with women more than twice as likely as men to choose that label. Five percent chose various other labels.
  • One-third of respondents reported being in a committed relationship and 10 percent reported having a domestic partner.

Living in the Margins: A National Survey of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Asian and Pacific Islander Americans was released today in Los Angeles at a press conference at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.

“This report would not have been possible without the dedicated effort of local organizations across the country participating and encouraging underrepresented voices to be heard,” said Dang. “Living in the Margins continues the Task Force’s longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and supports the efforts of local activists in a partnership to create a strong, vibrant, diverse LGBT community where all are welcomed and supported.”

A copy of the report and related fact sheets can be downloaded at www.theTaskForce.org/reports_and_research/api_study.

Various materials available in Chinese, English, Hindi, Korean and Vietnamese.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.