A new report from American Atheists titled Reality Check: Being Nonreligious in America reveals high levels of discrimination and stigma for nonreligious people in general and notes that those who are LGBTQ have a disproportionate lack of family support.
“LGBTQ young people face significant family rejection that results in a greater rate of negative psychological outcomes,” states the report, released Monday and based on the U.S. Secular Survey. “Similarly, nonreligious LGBTQ survey participants were more likely to have unsupportive parents. Among families that are aware of the participant’s nonreligious identity, LGBTQ participants were significantly more likely to have had 'very' or 'somewhat' unsupportive parents (43.0%) compared to non-LGBTQ participants (34.9%).”
These numbers are cause for concern, the report notes, because “participants with unsupportive parents had a 71.2% higher rate of likely depression than those with very supportive parents.”
It doesn’t get any better for nonreligious LGBTQ people outside the home, either, with 22 percent of those surveyed reporting negative experiences at work.
"It's pretty significant that among LGBTQ people, about 50 percent are religiously unaffiliated," Alison Gill, vice president for legal and policy at American Atheists and a trans lesbian, told The Bay Area Reporter in a recent phone interview. "I think it's for a few different reasons: a lot of belief systems teach that being LGBTQ is wrong, and so that stigmatizes LGBTQ people. There's a lot of religious trauma as well. They may not be able to be comfortable associating with a religious group."
The LGBTQ community was overrepresented in the survey of nearly 34,000 people, making up 23 percent of all respondents. Trauma from past treatment by organized religion and its followers is one of the reasons for this, Gill said.
Many nonreligious LGBTQ people feel they must stay in the closet about their beliefs, she added. "There's rampant discrimination against nonreligious people that often results in concealment of their identities, even in less religious areas," she said. "The stigma increases as states get more religious."
The most religious states, according to the report, are those in the South plus Idaho and Utah, with those holding religious beliefs ranging from 47.9 percent to 80 percent of the population.