NPWF President: "Robust interventions to address the substantial racial inequities in maternal health in the United States are long overdue and require immediate action." WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 19, 2023 – Today, the National Partnership for Women...
By Kendyll Cole, Sharita Gruberg and Jessica Mason
The ACLU estimates 491 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in state legislatures this year so far, making 2023 the most anti-LGBTQ+ state legislative session in history.American Civil Liberties Union. (2023, June 2). Mapping Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in U.S. State Legislatures. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from: https://www.aclu.org/legislative-attacks-on-lgbtq-rights From attacking access to health care to attempts to erase LGBTQI+ people from school curricula and public spaces, these bills further harm and stigmatize a community that faces widespread and persistent discrimination. These harms are compounded for LGBTQI+ people living at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities. A 2022 survey found that more than one in three LGBTQI+ adults – and nearly half of LGBTQI+ people of color, nearly half of LGBTQI+ people with disabilities and two in three intersex people – reported experiencing at least one form of discrimination in the prior year, compared to fewer than one in five non-LGBTQI+ people.Medina, C., & Mahowald, L. (2022, January 12). Discrimination and Barriers to Well-Being: The State of the LGBTQI+ Community in 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/discrimination-and-barriers-to-well-being-the-state-of-the-lgbtqi-community-in-2022/ Discrimination has negative impacts on LGBTQ+ people’s mental, physical, spiritual and financial well-being. That same report found 4 in 5 LGBTQI+ adults reported changing their behaviors to avoid the trauma of discrimination.
Amid this context of widespread discrimination and escalating political attacks, a new analysis of Household Pulse Survey data from the National Partnership for Women & Families sheds light on the economic challenges of LGBTQI+ parents and caregivers of children. We find that LGBTThe Household Pulse Survey data used in this analysis is specific to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender respondents due to the questionnaire structure. We use “LGBT” and “non-LGBT” in reference to our survey findings, and LGBTQI+ when referring more generally to the broader community, including intersex individuals as well as those who identify as queer. For more information about how identities were defined in this analysis, see the Methodology section below. parents have been more likely than non-LGBT parents to experience food insecurity and financial strain, and that public supports like the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC)Under the American Rescue Plan (2021), the maximum benefit of the Child Tax Credit was increased from its previous level of $2,000 to $3,000 per qualifying child aged six to 17 and $3,600 for qualifying child younger than six. It was also made fully refundable, meaning that parents with very low incomes (who did not owe that amount in income taxes) were eligible to receive a credit, and the credit could be paid out monthly. For more information, see Marr, C., Cox, K., Hingtgen, S., et al. (2021, March 12). American Rescue Plan Act Includes Critical Expansions of Child Tax Credit and EITC. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website: https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/american-rescue-plan-act-includes-critical-expansions-of-child-tax-credit-and may have been especially critical for their economic security – but that LGBT parents were less likely to receive the CTC. The most recent data (December 2022 through May 2023) also show that the share of LGBT parents facing economic strain has increased, compared to the earliest available data (July through October 2021), when many pandemic aid programs were still in effect.
These heightened economic stresses come amid increasing threats to the basic rights of LGBTQI+ people. Conservative politicians and a vocal minority of extremists are targeting LGBTQI+ parents and children, taking away their rights to seek gender-affirming health care, to learn at safe, inclusive and welcoming schools and to simply be out and visible in public. Our brief concludes that LGBTQI+ parents urgently need investments in caregiving supports, as well as strengthened legal protections and enforcement of workplace and civil rights in order to thrive and fully participate in our economy and our democracy.
New data shed light on economic hardship in LGBTQI+ communities
Until recently, there has been a persistent lack of routine sexual orientation and gender identity data in federal surveys. Thanks to the hard work of LGBTQI+ activists, researchers and policy experts to demand inclusive standards in federal data collection, major surveys have begun to incorporate better questions. One important new survey that began at the onset of the pandemic, the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, is now providing vital information about the economic, health and caregiving experiences of LGBT adults.File, T., & Lee, J.-H. (2021, August 5). Phase 3.2 of Census Bureau Survey Questions Now Include SOGI, Child Tax Credit, COVID Vaccination of Children. Retrieved 6 May 2023, from U. S. Census Bureau website: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/08/household-pulse-survey-updates-sex-question-now-asks-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity.html
Earlier analyses have documented concerning inequities faced by the LGBTQI+ community overall, including higher rates of poverty, unemployment and debt accumulation. For instance, over a nine-month period from 2021 to 2022, LGBT individuals were more likely than non-LGBT individuals to experience notable difficulty affording typical household expenses, including food, rent or mortgage, car payments, medical expenses and student loans.Medina, C., Mahowald, L., & Khattar, R. (2022, June). LGBT Workers in the Labor Market. Retrieved 6 May 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/fact-sheet-lgbt-workers-in-the-labor-market/ Rates of such financial strain were consistently highest among transgender people and among LGBTQI+ people of color. Medina, C., Mahowald, L., & Khattar, R. (2022, June). LGBT Workers in the Labor Market. Retrieved 6 May 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/fact-sheet-lgbt-workers-in-the-labor-market/
These higher rates of economic insecurity among LGBTQI+ individuals are not because they are less likely to work – LGBTQI+ people have been found to work more and at higher rates than their straight counterparts.Medina, C., Mahowald, L., & Khattar, R. (2022, June). LGBT Workers in the Labor Market. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/fact-sheet-lgbt-workers-in-the-labor-market/ Instead, the widespread economic disparities experienced by LGBTQI+ people stem from a lifetime of experiences with discrimination rooted in systemic bias and generations of public policies deliberately designed to harm LGBTQI+ people.Haynes, S. (2020, December 20). You’ve Probably Heard of the Red Scare, but the Lesser-Known, Anti-Gay ‘Lavender Scare’ Is Rarely Taught in Schools. Time. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from: https://time.com/5922679/lavender-scare-history/ Half of LGBTQI+ adults, and 70 percent of transgender adults, report that in the previous year, they were discriminated against or harassed in the workplace (including being fired or not hired, being denied a promotion, losing work hours, or being subject to verbal, physical or sexual harassment)Medina, C., & Mahowald, L. (2022, January 12). Discrimination and Barriers to Well-Being: The State of the LGBTQI+ Community in 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/discrimination-and-barriers-to-well-being-the-state-of-the-lgbtqi-community-in-2022/.
Ableism and racism both exacerbate and add to the inequities experienced by disabled LGBTQI+ peopleSurveys indicate that LGBT people report being disabled at higher rates than average. See Movement Advancement Project. (2019, July). LGBT People With Disabilities. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from: https://www.lgbtmap.org/lgbt-people-disabilities and LGBTQI+ people of color. For example, in one survey, 33 percent of non-disabled LGBTQI+ people (of any race or ethnicity) reported experiencing discrimination in the previous year, compared to 45 percent of disabled LGBTQI+ people and 54 percent of LGBTQI+ people of color.Medina, C., Mahowald, L., & Santos. T. (2021, November). The United States Must Advance Economic Security for Disabled LGBTQI+ Workers. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/united-states-must-advance-economic-security-disabled-lgbtqi-workers/
As a result, LGBTQI+ people are less likely to hold quality, high-paying jobs, and more likely to hold jobs that pay poverty wages, offer few benefits, and provide limited protections.Medina, C., Mahowald, L., & Khattar, R. (2022, June). LGBT Workers in the Labor Market. Retrieved 6 May 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/fact-sheet-lgbt-workers-in-the-labor-market/ Only 56 percent of LGBTQI+ workers report having paid sick leave, and just 31 percent report access to paid family leave through their employer – and only 18 percent have employer-provided paid family leave that includes coverage for chosen family (loved ones to whom a person may not have a biological or legal relationship).Watson, S., Casey, L., Medina, C., & Mahowald, L. (2023, March). The LGBTQI+ Economic and Financial (LEAF) Survey: Understanding the Financial Lives of LGBTQI+ People in the United States. Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research (CLEAR) and Movement Advancement Project (MAP) Publication. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from https://lgbtq-economics.org/research/leaf-report-2023/ Including chosen family in paid leave policies is especially important for LGBTQI+ workers because they are more likely to report needing to care for chosen family members compared to non-LGBTQI+ people.Medina, C., & Weston Williamson, M. (2023, March). Paid Leave Policies Must Include Chosen Family. Retrieved 6 June 2023 from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/paid-leave-policies-must-include-chosen-family/ LGBTQI+ communities have rich and innovative histories of creating loving family bonds and networks of care in the face of stigma, discrimination and rejection by families of origin,See for example Bailey, M. M. (2013). Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press; Lewin, E. (2009). Gay Fatherhood: Narratives of Family and Citizenship in America. Chicago: Chicago University Press; Weston, K. (1991). Families We Choose. New York : Columbia University Press. as well as discriminatory laws that fail to recognize their relationships. Movement Advancement Project. (2023, June). Relationships at Risk: Why We Need to Update State Parentage Laws to Protect Children and Families. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from: https://www.mapresearch.org/2023-parentage-report
Pervasive discrimination harms the mental and physical health of LGBTQI+ people as well as their economic security. To avoid or protect themselves against discrimination, many LGBTQI+ people alter their lives in large and small ways, including avoidance behaviors such as changing their presentation and dress, delaying or avoiding health care (which could lead to worse health outcomes), making decisions about where to shop, work or live or avoiding getting services for themselves or their families.Singh, S., Durso, L. E. (2017, May 2). Widespread Discrimination Continues to Shape LGBT People’s Lives in Both Subtle and Significant Ways. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/widespread-discrimination-continues-shape-lgbt-peoples-lives-subtle-significant-ways/
But as entrenched as these inequities are, legal and policy changes can make a difference. Notably, rates of poverty for LGBT people declined from 2020 to 2021, likely thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision to extend nationwide protections from employment discrimination to include gender identity and sexual orientationBostock v. Clayton County, 140 S.Ct. 1731, 590 U.S._(2020); Gruberg, S. (2020, Aug. 26) Beyond Bostock: The Future of LGBTQ Civil Rights. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/beyond-bostock-future-lgbtq-civil-rights/ and the robust set of pandemic relief programs that was in effect early during the pandemicWilson, B. D. M., Bouton, L. J. A., Badgett, L. M. V., & Macklin, M. L. (2023, February). LGBT Poverty in the United States: Trends at the Onset of COVID-19. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from UCLA School of Law, Williams Institute website: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/lgbt-poverty-us/ – such as the expanded CTC, economic impact payments, and the emergency paid sick days and paid family leave program.
LGBTQ parents are more likely to report economic insecurity
Our analysis looks at several measures of economic security at two points in time: from July through October 2021 – the earliest period for which data are available – and December 2022 through May 2023, the most recent period currently available.To ensure adequate sample sizes for subgroup analysis, data was pooled across the survey weeks in the earlier and later periods. See Methodological note for more details While the economic recovery since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has by some measures been more equitable than prior recoveries,Gallagher Robbins, K. (2023, April 11). Black women’s unemployment hits a historic low – but there is more to do | #JobsDay April 2023. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from National Partnership for Women & Families website: https://nationalpartnership.org/black-womens-unemployment-historic-low/ LGBT parents have been more likely to experience economic insecurity than their non-LGBT counterparts. This trend illustrates how persistent the economic effects of anti-LGBTQI+ discrimination are: LGBTQ people also experienced a slower recovery after the 2008 Great Recession, for example.Gruberg, S., & Madowitz, M. (2020, May 5). Same-Sex Couples Experience Higher Unemployment Rates Throughout an Economic Recovery. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/sex-couples-experience-higher-unemployment-rates-throughout-economic-recovery/
Our analysis finds that even in the earlier period (July – October 2021), when some pandemic aid programs were still active, LGBT parents were nearly 70 percent more likely than non-LGBT parents to report that their family sometimes or often did not have enough to eat (13.5 percent versus 8.0 percent). Data were limited for many demographics, but rates of food insecurity were especially high among LGBT parents with disabilities (16.9 percent) and transgender parents (23.0 percent).
Hardships are acute for LGBT parents, especially those who are Black, Hispanic/Latino, disabled or transgender
LGBT parents were also more likely than non-LGBT parents to say it was somewhat or very difficult to pay for regular household expenses, such as groceries, rent and medical bills. The intersecting impacts of racism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are clear in the data: economic insecurity is even higher among LGBT parents of color and disabled LGBT parents, with nearly half of Black LGBT parents (48.2 percent) and disabled LGBT parents (45.4 percent) reporting difficulty paying household expenses. Among LGBT parents, more than 4 in 10 transgender parents reported difficulty meeting household expenses (45.6 percent), compared to one-quarter of gay fathers (25.1 percent).
Interruptions in child care arrangements have been a major source of stress and economic challenge for nearly all parents throughout the pandemic. But our analysis finds that LGBT parents were 33 percent more likely than non-LGBT parents to experience child care disruptions due to closures, lack of affordability or concerns about safety. Discrimination by service providers, for example certain faith-affiliated child care providers, is a significant problem for LGBTQI+ parents, and disruptions to existing arrangements may be especially challenging for LGBTQI+ parents to navigate. In one survey, more than four in ten LGBTQI+ people said it would be either “very difficult” or “not possible” to find alternative child care, compared to less than one-quarter of non-LGBTQI+ people.Medina, C., & Mahowald, L. (2022, January 12). Discrimination and Barriers to Well-Being: The State of the LGBTQI+ Community in 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/discrimination-and-barriers-to-well-being-the-state-of-the-lgbtqi-community-in-2022/
LGBT parents were less likely to receive the Child Tax Credit, but it made a big difference
In 2021, the American Rescue Plan temporarily expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and enabled it to be paid in advance, cutting the child poverty rate to a historic low, with especially strong benefits for Black and Hispanic/Latino children.Marr, C., Trisi, D., Sherman, A., & Cox, K. (2022, October 20). Policymakers Should Expand Child Tax Credit in Year-End Legislation to Fight Child Poverty. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website: https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/policymakers-should-expand-child-tax-credit-in-year-end-legislation-to-fight The CTC expansion may also have reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety among low-income parents.Batra, A., Jackson, K & Hamad, R. (2023, January). Effects Of The 2021 Expanded Child Tax Credit On Adults’ Mental Health: A Quasi-Experimental Study. Health Affairs. 42(1). doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2022.00733
Unfortunately, LGBT parents overall were 18 percent less likely than non-LGBT parents to report receiving an advance CTC payment in the previous four weeks. Hispanic/Latino and multiracial/other LGBT parents were least likely to receive the CTC (36 percent and 24 percent less likely respectively than non-LGBT parents), despite facing some of the highest levels of economic and mental health strain, as our analysis shows below. We also find that Black LGBT parents and disabled LGBT parents were 5 percent less likely than non-LGBT parents to receive the CTC. While the survey did not ask about what barriers these parents might have faced, one factor could be avoidance behaviors: 18 percent of LGBTQI+ people report avoiding getting services for themselves or family members in order to avoid discrimination. That share rises to 25 percent for LGBTQI+ people of color, 26 percent for LGBTQI+ people with disabilities and 27 percent for transgender people.Medina, C., & Mahowald, L. (2022, January 12). Discrimination and Barriers to Well-Being: The State of the LGBTQI+ Community in 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/discrimination-and-barriers-to-well-being-the-state-of-the-lgbtqi-community-in-2022/
LGBT parents who received the advance CTC were much less likely to report difficulty paying for regular household expenses, compared to those who did not receive the CTC. And the gap between LGBT and non-LGBT parents in difficulty paying expenses was much smaller among CTC recipients.
Economic stress has increased for LGBT parents after end of pandemic aid
Even though COVID continues to impact families’ health and well-being, and despite their success in bolstering economic security for low- and middle-income workers and families, the expanded CTC and other pandemic-era economic supports have largely ended. While the job market has been relatively strong for workers since 2021, a lack of affordable child care, paid family and medical leave and other caregiving supports and widespread discrimination are barriers to employment for many people (especially disabled women,Ditkowsky, M. (2023, February). New Data on Disability Employment: Small Gains But Institutional Barriers Remain. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from National Partnership for Women & Families website: https://nationalpartnership.org/new-data-on-disability-employment-small-gains-but-institutional-barriers-remain/ women of colorGallagher Robbins, K., & Mason, J. (2023, March). Unemployment Increases for Women of Color Mean the Fed Should Pause Interest Rate Hikes | #JobsDay March 2023. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from National Partnership for Women & Families website: https://nationalpartnership.org/unemployment-increases-for-women-of-color-mean-the-fed-should-pause-interest-rate-hikes-jobsday-march-2023/ and LGBTQ peopleMedina, C., & Weston Williamson, M. (2023, March). Paid Leave Policies Must Include Chosen Family. Retrieved 6 June 2023 from Center for American Progress website: https://www.americanprogress.org/article/paid-leave-policies-must-include-chosen-family/), and wage gains have been eroded by inflation.
These broader trends appear to be hurting LGBT parents as well. Our analysis finds that LGBT parents’ economic insecurity remains high relative to non-LGBT parents and has even worsened for most groups, compared to 2021.
The many challenges LGBTQI+ parents are facing can also take a toll on their mental health. LGBT parents report symptoms of anxiety and depression at higher rates than non-LGBT parents. And while these rates declined slightly among non-LGBT parents in the most recent data (December 2022 – May 2023) compared to 2021, they have increased among many groups of LGBT parents.
LGBTQI+ people need robust, equitable job supports and civil rights protections
Economic hardship has historically plagued LGBTQI+ communities at disproportionate rates compared to their non-LGBTQI+ counterparts – a trend that continues to afflict LGBTQI+ people to this day and has grown worse in recent months, our data suggest. Discrimination in all areas of life, including family recognition, employment, housing, health care and more are taking a severe toll on the well-being of LGBTQI+ people and their families. Lawmakers must act to ensure that LGBTQI+ parents, and all LGBTQI+ people, can meet their health and caregiving needs, achieve economic security, live free from discrimination, and thrive as full participants in our economy and society.
- Pass the Caring for All Families Act, which would update the Family and Medical Leave Act to reflect the diversity of family structures, including coverage to care for domestic partners and chosen family.
- Pass the FAMILY Act to create a national paid family and medical leave program, and the Healthy Families Act to set a national paid sick and safe days standard, to ensure no working person has to choose between their income and caring for their loved ones. Both bills define family inclusively.
- Pass the Equality Act, which would strengthen federal legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sex, and add critical new protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.
- Pass the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act which would require the collection of voluntary, self-disclosed information on sexual orientation, gender identity, and variations in sex characteristics, in certain federal surveys.
- Pass the Do No Harm Act to further protect LGBTQI+ families from discrimination when accessing critical services by ensuring religious freedom is not misused as a license to discriminate.
- Pass the Child Care for Working Families Act to provide high-quality, affordable child care for most families in the U.S. and improve job conditions for the child care workforce.
The Biden administration should:
- Prioritize implementation of its Federal Evidence Agenda on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Equity,White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. (2023, January 24). FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Releases First-Ever Federal Evidence Agenda on LGBTQI+ Equity. Retrieved 6 June 2023, from: https://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/news-updates/2023/01/24/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-releases-first-ever-federal-evidence-agenda-on-lgbtqi-equity/ to ensure federal agencies continue their efforts to expand needed data collection and disaggregation about sexual orientation and gender identity.
The authors thank James Campbell, Sarah Coombs, Elisa Davila, Marissa Ditkowsky, Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Gail Zuagar and Mettabel Law for their feedback and contributions.
This analysis uses Public Use File data from the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, Phase 3.2 (surveys fielded between July 21, 2021 and October 10, 2021), Phase 3.7 (surveys fielded between December 9, 2022 and February 13, 2023), and Phase 3.8 (surveys fielded between March 1, 2023 and May 8, 2023). Data for survey weeks were aggregated in order to create samples large enough to be disaggregated by LGBT status, race/ethnicity and disability status. We follow the Census Bureau’s recommendations for categorizing respondents’ sexual orientation and gender identity:
- LGBT: Individuals who report their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian or bisexual, identify their gender identity as transgender, or report that their sex at birth (male or female) does not align with their current gender identity.
- Non-LGBT: Individualswho report their sexual orientation as straight and having a sex at birth that aligns with their current gender identity.
- Transgender: Individuals who report their gender identity as transgender or report a sex at birth that differs from their current gender identity.
- Lesbian: Individuals who report their sexual orientation as gay or lesbian and their gender identity as female.
- Gay: Individuals who report their sexual orientation as gay or lesbian and their gender identity as male.
- Bisexual: Individuals who report their sexual orientation as bisexual.
Racial categories in this analysis exclude individuals who identify as Hispanic or Latino, who are analyzed separately. Individuals are identified as disabled if they responded that they had “some difficulty,” “a lot of difficulty” or “cannot do at all” to at least one of the following questions: “Do you have difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses?”, “Do you have difficulty hearing, even when using a hearing aid?”, “Do you have difficulty remembering or concentrating?”, or “Do you have difficulty walking or climbing stairs?