February 2, 2018 at 7:31 pm EST | by Mark Lee
GLAAD recklessly sounds an alarm for a false fire
Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD, gay news, Washington Blade

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

If you read the breathless click-bait headlines at some publications last week you might have thought LGBT Americans should race to underground bunkers for safety.

Panic was not actually necessary. The alarm sounded by a national LGBT advocacy organization was mostly hooey and mainly hype.

If you review GLAAD’s summary publication detailing the group’s fourth annual commissioned survey conducted by the Harris Poll, you would discover 79 percent of non-LGBT U.S. adults “support equal rights for the LGBT community.” The poll results – released by the group at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last Thursday – indicates no decline in support from the previous year.

The 4-in-5 number tracks with other national surveys and is even slightly higher than polling conducted by the Pew Research Center last October. The Pew poll indicated that super-majorities across demographics, including majorities for all age groups and political affiliations for the first time, believe “homosexuality should be accepted rather than discouraged by society.”

GLAAD’s annual survey showed only minuscule fluctuations of two or three percent on “comfort questions” presumably within the margin of error, although that information is not revealed in the poll publication. These tiny shifts are instead called “significant declines” for the “personal interaction scenarios” measured. They include whether the respondent felt either “very” or “somewhat” uncomfortable upon “learning my doctor is LGBT,” “learning my child’s teacher is LGBT” or “learning a family member is LGBT.”

On all three questions, those saying they would be “uncomfortable” did not exceed 31 percent, and the average percentage for all seven “scenarios” polled was 30 percent, or less than one-third. On all questions there was a negligible fluctuation from previous years.

GLAAD also “segments” non-LGBT Americans in three categories: “Allies” (those comfortable in all scenarios), “Detached Supporters” (those whose comfort level varied across situations) and “Resisters” (those always uncomfortable). The number classified in each group was essentially unchanged over three years, with “Resisters” static at a mere 14 percent. There was only a 2 percent shift in both supporting categories, presumably within a standard margin of error, with fully half (49 percent) called “Allies” and “Detached Supporters” comprising 37 percent.

These ballyhooed-with-alarm findings produced blaring headlines in some publications, such as, “It’s Official: America Suddenly Isn’t Comfortable with LGBT People,” “In Three Years, LGBT Americans Have Gone from Triumph to Backsliding,” “America Is Growing Less Tolerant on LGBT Rights” and “Acceptance of LGBT People Sees ‘Significant Declines’ in Troubling Shift.”

Some advocates have even lumped “Detached Supporters” in with the hyper-minority called “Resisters” of civil equality and social acceptance to claim that 51 percent are anti-LGBT. A fair appraisal would alternately tout a combined generally-or-fully supportive 86 percent.

Adding to perceptions GLAAD spins a tale not evidenced by an actual or meaningful data shift is the fine-print declaration that fully 12 percent of American adults are LGBTQ. This numeric claim is an outlier of huge proportions when contrasted with all reputable polling, demographic reporting, historical data, or similar surveys.

It’s tempting to utilize the popular vernacular and taint the false and exaggerated polling analysis by GLAAD as “fake news.”

What is clear is that the only actual decline in acceptance is restricted to GLAAD’s reliability, respectability and reputation. The organization has crafted and generated a narrative neither credible nor persuasive, and certainly not reflective of the facts.

What’s worse is the underlying notion that some LGBT political activists are apparently, despite rapid acceleration in acceptance, beholden to a supposed necessity of maintaining both a shit-your-pants type of trepidation within the LGBT community and fueling a never-ending posture of our victimization for everyone else.

Without the slightest hint of irony, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis offers an observation in a notation accompanying the survey report: “Our stories have always been and will continue to be the front lines to accelerate acceptance.”

We expect more accuracy and truthfulness, and less hyperbole, when telling that story.

UPDATE – GLAAD RESPONDS: “The Harris Poll conducted the survey and also managed the methodology and analysis of the data. This year’s survey does not tell a positive story, but puts numbers to the increased anti-LGBTQ cultural and political climate that too many LGBTQ Americans have recently encountered.”

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

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