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Study Finds 24 Percent of Southern LGBTQ People Live in Poverty

Study Finds 24 Percent Of Southern LGBTQ Live In Poverty

Disparities found nationwide in number of poor LGBTQ people compared to their straight, cisgender counterparts.

Nearly a quarter of LGBTQ people in the South live in poverty.

A new study found that in every Southern state except Florida, individuals identifying as LGBTQ are more likely to be poor than straight, cisgender counterparts, with 24 percent of LGBTQ adults in the region living in poverty. The University of California, Los Angeles's Williams Institute, which focuses its public policy research on sexual orientation and gender identity issues, published the data along with numbers for every state in the union.

The South saw the highest percent of LGBTQ adults living in poverty, followed by the Midwest (23 percent), the West (22 percent) and the Northeast (18 percent).

In three Southern states -- Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia -- LGBTQ people in rural communities had significantly higher poverty rates than those in urban areas, though the reverse of that was true in West Virginia.

Study author Bianca Wilson, a senior scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute, said the research is part of the Pathways to Justice Project at the Institute.

"This study provides a foundation for understanding LGBT poverty by state. But clearly, more data are needed in the states that are not yet collecting [sexual orientation and gender itentity] data," Wilson said. "As more states begin to include these critical questions on all of their surveys, we can provide nuanced analyses that inform effective policies and interventions that meet the needs of LGBT people in specific states."

While the South showed the greatest poverty among LGBTQ people, economic problems were found across the nation. In every Midwestern and Northeastern state as well as the Western states of Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming LGBTQ people consistently were more likely to be living in poverty than non-LGBTQ individuals.

Transgender people in particular see higher poverty rates that cisgender people (or at least cis men) in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, California, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, and Washington.

But there are layers of privilege. LGBTQ people of color are more likely than white LGBTQ individuals to live at poverty rates in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

"There is so much more to learn about LGBT poverty in individual states," said lead author Soon Kyu Choi, project manager at the Williams Institute. "We need to better understand the connection between differing poverty rates across states with variations in LGBT related public policies and public attitudes that may limit economic opportunities for LGBT people."

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