As conventional wisdom goes, Latinos are not the most tolerant group when it comes to accepting homosexuality. But this is more perception than reality, a new report says.
The National Council of La Raza and Social Science Research Solutions, a public opinion research firm, have released a survey suggesting that Latinos are not as unaccepting of LGBT peers or even of same-sex marriage as perceived to be, although those who are deeply religious are less tolerant, similar to the general population. And surprisingly, while the acculturation level of immigrants are plays a part, the level of tolerance doesn't vary so much between first-generation immigrants and U.S.-born Latinos. From the report:
With regard to support for legal gay marriage, Gallup has been tracking support within the overall U.S. population since 1996. They most recently found that 53 percent of Americans support legal gay 0% marriage. This compares quite nicely with our data on Hispanics, for whom 54 percent offered their support.
We found strong support for other policies as well in our data. Sixty-four percent of Latinos support civil unions. No less than 83 percent of Latinos support legal protections for hate crimes, job discrimination, housing discrimination, as well as support for healthcare and pension benefits for gay and lesbian couples. Over three out of four (78 %) support open military service.
That said, it's impossible to generalize, as the children of immigrants who have tried to come out can relate. In a Q&A last year about coming out twice - as gay and undocumented - political artist Julio Salgado described his own family's attitudes. While his mother was immediately accepting, he's had to tread carefully with other family members:
In my case, I have never told either one of my grandmothers that I am gay. Specially my father’s mom, who truly believes that homosexuality can be cured by reading a pamphlet.
As I get older, I have learned to respect her beliefs. I have come to understand that she comes from a different generation. Even my father, who still struggles with the idea of me being queer, has sort of come around because I’ve given him that space to try and understand what is like to have a gay son.
The NCLR report describes the acculturation aspect:
It could very well be the case that the reason the unacculturated are intolerant is because gay and lesbians are less upfront themselves in their "home country;" As Hispanics live longer in the U.S., the more they stumble across LGBT issues, and more importantly, LGBT themselves. Our data corroborate with other data that the more one comes into contact with LGBT, the more tolerant they become.
Generationally, Latinos also become generally less religious beyond the first generation, according to the report, and less Catholic. However:
Interestingly, there are not differences in the attitudes of Latinos across generations. Fifty-nine percent of first generation Latinos support legal gay marriage, compared to 55 percent of third generation Latinos. The difference in support of legal unions is significant (59% traditional versus 67% acculturated), but is still relatively small.
The entire report can be downloaded here.