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New National Survey Reveals LGBTQ People Continue to Be Disproportionately Impacted by the COVID Delta Variant and Ongoing Pandemic

Rebecca Farmer, Movement Advancement Project, | 303-578-4600 ext 122

December 9, 2021—LGBTQ people were more likely to have serious financial problems, income loss, and challenges accessing healthcare as the Delta variant progressed, according to a report released today by the Movement Advancement Project.

The report, The Delta Variant & the Disproportionate Impacts of COVID-19 on LGBTQ Households in the U.S., presents new findings and analysis of a nationally representative survey conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, NPR, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (See MAP’s December 2020 analysis of previous survey data from the broader Harvard/NPR/RWJF polling series.)

“For nearly two years, COVID-19 has disrupted life for all of us. Millions have had the disease and three-quarters of a million people have died in the U.S. alone. The pandemic’s impact extends far beyond the direct impact of the virus. LGBTQ people are more vulnerable to pandemic-related instability and insecurity as a result of decades of discrimination on the job, in health care, and beyond, combined with uneven legal protections around the country,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director at MAP.

Key findings from this nationally representative survey include:
More than half of LGBTQ households experienced at least one serious financial problem in recent months alone.

  1. 30% of LGBTQ households reported challenges affording medical care in the past few months, compared to 15% of non-LGBTQ households.

  2. LGBTQ households were twice as likely to be struggling to afford food in the past few months.

  3. Nearly a quarter of LGBTQ people (23%) faced serious problems paying for housing in the past few months, compared to 13% of non-LGBTQ people.

As in the 2020 survey, these new data show that LGBTQ people experienced higher rates of job loss and work disruption due to the pandemic than non-LGBTQ people

  1. Overall, 61% of LGBTQ households reported that, since the start of the pandemic, they had lost or had to quit their job or had their income reduced, compared to 40% of non-LGBTQ households.

  2. Additionally, 91% of employed LGBTQ people said their employer did not require employees at their workplace to be vaccinated versus 74% of non-LGBTQ employed people.

The pandemic has made it even more challenging for LGBTQ people to access competent health care, all while exacerbating already existing disparities in mental health.

  1. Twenty-eight percent of LGBTQ people indicated they or someone in their households have been unable to get medical care for a serious problem in the past few months when they needed it, compared to 17% of non-LGBTQ households.

  2. More than three quarters (77%) of LGBTQ people said they or someone in their household had experienced serious problems with depression, anxiety, stress, or serious problems sleeping in the past few months, compared to just under half (48%) of non-LGBTQ households.

Overall, LGBTQ households were more likely than non-LGBTQ households to report that they or someone in their household experienced racial or ethnic discrimination in the past few months, highlighting the unique vulnerability of LGBTQ people of color.

  1. A quarter of LGBTQ people reported experiencing discrimination based on their race or ethnicity, compared to 13% of non-LGBTQ people.

  2. Twice as many LGBTQ households feared threats or physical attacks because of their race or ethnicity (20% for LGBTQ households compared to 10% for non-LGBTQ households).
“As the pandemic continues, LGBTQ people and their families continue to face stark and disproportionate impacts on their economic security and their physical and mental health. COVID-19 has amplified and exacerbated disparities that existed before the pandemic. LGBTQ people were more likely to struggle with economic stability and have challenges with access to health care prior to COVID, and that’s even more true now. The existing patchwork of legal protections is insufficient, which is why we need a nationwide law like the Equality Act so that LGBTQ people in every community are protected from discrimination,” said Logan Casey, Senior Policy Researcher at MAP and an author of the report.

The survey was conducted in August and September of 2021 by NPR, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (NPR/RWJF/Harvard). The survey was part of a polling series to examine the impact of COVID-19 on households in the United States.

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