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2008 Survey of Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities Fast Facts

By Susan Wright

The 2008 survey saw a total of 3,058 responses collected. Of those, 2,412 respondents resided in the United States (83.4%). Of the remaining 480 respondents, a total of over 42 other countries were represented. Where appropriate, the data is compared to the 1998 Violence & Discrimination Survey Against Sexual Minorities which collected over 1,000 responses to similar questions over the course of a year. The 1998 survey did not cover business or event-related experiences of harassment, nor did it ask about Internet experiences. The 2008 survey also included more questions about sexual activity and identity.

Table 1. Gender 2008 1998
Women 51% 46%
Men 45% 51%
Transgender 5% 1%
Intersexes 1% 2%

 

Table 2. Sexual Orientation
2008 1998
Heterosexual 41% 40%
Bisexual 35% 36%
Gay/lesbian 22% 22%
Other 7% 4%

 

A total of 1,146 (37.5%) respondents indicated that they had either been discriminated against, had experienced some form of harassment or violence, or had some form of harassment or discrimination aimed at their BDSM-leather-fetish-related business. Of the respondents who reported some form of persecution,

  • 476 (41.5%) identified as male
  • 615 (53.7%) identified as female
  • 9 (.8%) identified as intersexed
  • 78 (6.8%) identified as transgendered

(Sexual orientation, like gender, was a question which required some answer, but allowed respondents to choose as many as they felt might apply, so the percentage totals more than 100%.)

Of the 1,146 respondents who indicated that they had either been discriminated against or had experienced some form of harassment or violence,

  • 380 (33.2%) identified as heterosexual,
  • 440 (38.4%) identified as bisexual
  • 292 (25.5%) identified as gay or lesbian.
  • 97 (8.5%) indicated that they identified in some other way from heterosexual, bisexual or gay/lesbian.

(Sexual orientation, like gender, was a question which required some answer, but allowed respondents to choose as many as they felt might apply, so the percentage totals more than 100%.)

The sexual orientation of respondents who were discriminated against or had experienced some form of harassment or violence is compared in Table 6.1 to the total percentage of respondents who identified their orientation. It is interesting to note that Gay/lesbian, Bisexual and Other respondents have slightly higher rates of persecution than their average percentage of total respondents, while Heterosexuals are less likely to be discriminated against.

Table 3. Sexual Orientation
and Discrimination
Total Percent
2008
Respondents
Percent
Persecuted
Gay/lesbian 22% 25.5%
Bisexual 35% 38.4%
Heterosexual 41% 33.2%
Other 7% 8.5%
Total 105% 105.6%

 

In 1998, the survey asked: "Are you completely 'out' about your involvement in sexual minority practices? "62% stated they were not "completely out." That is statistically almost the same as the 59.5 and 59.7% of respondents in the current survey who said they weren't out to work and/or family. 
 
11.3% (346) of the total number of respondents (3,058) reported being discriminated against by professional or personal service providers. That is 30% (346) of the respondents who were discriminated against (1,146). Those respondents could check one or more of the specific ways they were discriminated against (Table 8.), with 48.8% discriminated against by a medical doctor, and 39.3% discriminated against by a mental health practitioner.
 

Table 4. Discrimination by Professionals
Medical doctor 48.8%
Mental health practitioner 39.3%
Police or govt. employee 25.4%
Other Professional service provider 8.4%
Lawyer 7.8%
Other Personal service provider 6.1%
Dentist 1.7%
Building contractor 1.7%
Accountant 1.2%
Other 6.9%

 

In total, 203 (6.6%) respondents stated their business had been harassed or discriminated against.

Respondents could check one or more of the specific ways they were discriminated against
(Table 5.).

Table 5. Business Discrimination
Negative media coverage 26.1%
Harassment by police/author 22.2%
Harassment by neighbors 20.7%
Harassment by organizations 20.2%
Loss of lease 17.7%
Refused credit card services 14.8%
Loss of business 13.8%
Refused insurance coverage 8.9%
Loss of occupancy certificate 4.9%
Arrest 3.0%
Fines 2.0%
Other 24.6%


When asked, "Have you curtailed your use of the Internet for fear of prosecution?" More than one-third of the respondents, 1,065 (34.8%) of the 3058 respondents, said "yes". Respondents could check one or more of the specific ways they curtailed their Internet use (Table 10.).

Table 6. Curtailed Internet Use
Didn't post image 71.5%
Didn't visit website 45.7%
Didn't post text 43.4%
Didn't link to website 38.7%
Didn't join email group 31.0%
Posted 18-over warn 25.7%
Barred users 16.1%
Didn't add meta-text 8.0%
Other 11.0%

 

9.3% of respondents, 285 out of the total returned surveys, reported that US 2257 had an impact on their use of the Internet. Of the 1,065 respondents who indicated that they had curtailed their use of the Internet regarding BDSM activities, 214 (20.1%) reported that US 2257 was a significant reason for that curtailment. 

When respondents who experienced violence and/or harassment were asked, "Did you press charges?" 90% said no as compared to 96% of the respondents in the 1998 survey who did not press charges. 

Table 7. Reasons Declined To Press Charges
Fear of further harassment 41.0%
Fear of family disapproval 24.1%
Fear of job safety 22.2%
Fear of legal repercussions 21.9%
Fear of losing child custody 10.6%

 

Copyright Susan Wright, Survey of Violence & Discrimination Agaisnt Sexual Minorities (2008)
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