More than 3M LGBT people part of rural communities
Despite popular notion, the LGBT people don’t mainly live in the cities and on the coasts. A new study has revealed that almost four million of us are a fundamental part of the country’s rural communities.
The study, which was conducted by the Movement Advancement Project, a think tank group that advocates for LGBT equality, reported that 2.9 million to 3.8 million LGBT people live in the rural areas of America.
That’s around five percent of the rural population and up to 20 percent of the total LGBT population.
Breaking stereotypes of rural communities
Logan Casey, a policy researcher for the Movement Advancement Project, said of the LGBT people “are a fundamental part of the fabric of rural communities across the country.”
Casey said of their report: “The most important goal was to work against the stereotype that LGBT people only live in the cities or on the coast and to shine a light on the millions of LGBT people living in rural America.”
According to the report, most of them chose this life due to the tight-knit communities with a shared sense of values and that same-sex parents moved to life outside the cities.
The report noted that “the highest rates of parenting by both same-sex couples and LGBT individuals are in the most rural regions of the country.”
It also cited data from The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law wherein 24 out of the 30 states have same-sex couples that are raising children in mostly rural areas.
The problems LGBT people face in rural areas
Casey said discrimination against LGBT people is not unique to rural areas, but the impact is different, from limited access to health care, to the housing shortage, the opioid issue, and job loss.
He cited the ripple effect, wherein discrimination against LGBT members can quickly spread through the community. There’s also fewer protections in rural areas.
Because there are fewer doctors and employers, discrimination against LGBT people become more acute as alternatives are almost impossible to find.
“If you have heart problems and that’s the only cardiologist within two hours of you, you can’t just go to another doctor,” MAP Executive Director Ineke Mushovic said.
The good things about living in rural communities
However, if other people in the community stand up for the LGBT people in the community, this can also ripple outward, Casey said.
“When one person stands up and takes a stance for an LGBTQ person and really embraces them, that sets the tone for how they should be treated,” he said.
This underlines the need for protections for the LGBT people. Casey said: “When you don’t have those non-discrimination protections, it disproportionately impacts LGBT people in rural areas.”
He further said, “LGBT people throughout the country shouldn’t have to choose between these basic rights and protections and where they call home.”