LGBT Discrimination and Gay Bullying Growing Concerns in South Florida, Survey Indicates
Our Fund, the gay community foundation that was launched 18 months ago, recently released the results of a community-wide survey covering a range of issues from health and harassment to wishes and wealth.
"It wasn't a scientific research project," said Our Fund president Anthony Timiraos. "But we feel it's a great start. It gives us something to look at as we try to assess the issues that should be addressed in our community."
Our Fund initiated the project and enlisted assistance from a wide range of non-profit organizations and interested individuals in the South Florida counties. In addition to recommending questions to be asked, the local non-profits distributed the invitation to complete the survey through their email broadcasts. Palm cards were printed and distributed at gay and gay-friendly locations inviting participation.
"One of the things we're seeing," said Timiraos, who agreed that financial issues are important to Our Fund and its beneficiaries, "is the funders are encouraging agencies to collaborate rather than duplicate services. There's less money to go around and they want the best return on what they have to donate. So we felt it was important to get insights from a wide range of non-profit organizations and people who support them."
693 individuals completed the online survey between April 1 and June 30, 2012. The majority of respondents were over 50 years old. 70% own their own homes. Almost 70% are in some sort of relationship and more than 72% had incomes over $50,000 a year. 74.2% identified as gay, 16.2% as lesbians, and 9.6% as "other."
Geographically, the results were heavily weighted toward Broward with 64.9% of the response. Palm Beach had 22% and Miami-Dade 7.1%. Six percent were listed as "other."
The topics investigated by the survey included discrimination, quality of life, civic involvement and donor trends.
According to the executive summary of the report, the survey showed that health was one of the most important issues identified by the respondents. Particular emphasis was placed on LBT women. LGBT seniors in various stages of aging, and an awareness of issues faced by people with HIV/AIDS were also seen as important areas of focus.
Although few of the respondents were of school age, those who answered the survey felt that discrimination, bullying, and suicide and suicide attempts are major issues with LGBT youth in South Florida. It is also noted that children of LGBT parents may also experience discrimination and bullying from their peers.
When it came to adults, 21% indicated that they experienced discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity during the past five years - most frequently at work and from police and/or law enforcement.
Respondents to the survey are also generally involved in civic issues and duties. Ninety seven percent are registered, active voters and 89% are likely to vote for candidates based on their attitudes toward the LGBT community.
When it comes to financial issues, 32% of respondents have not made any estate planning arrangements.
"This is a serious problem," said Timiraos. "We've all read and heard about people losing money and property because they didn't take the necessary steps to protect themselves."
He noted that 72% of responders have not designated any local non-profit organization serving the LGBT community in their estate plans while 85% have not designated national organizations.
"A lot of them said they didn't know about the different agencies and others said they had not donated because they hadn't been asked, so we have an education issue to work through as well," Timiraos said.