Column: LGBTQ Americans are 9 times more likely to be victimized by a hate crime

A makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub continues to grow on November 21, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On Saturday evening, a 22-year-old gunman entered the LGBTQ nightclub opened fire, killing at least five people and injuring 25 others before being stopped by club patrons. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

In our recent analysis of the National Crime Victimization Survey, we found that the odds of being a violent hate crime victim for LGBTQ people was nine times greater than it was for cisgender and straight people from 2017 to 2019.

There were an average annual 6.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 LGBTQ people during this three year period.

In contrast, there were 0.6 violent hate crime victimizations per 1,000 cisgender and straight people.

A hate crime is an attack or threat of an attack that’s motivated by the victim’s perceived race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender or religion. Or it could include someone’s association with any of the previous categories, such as an anti-Muslim hate crime committed against someone who is Sikh.

The National Crime Victimization Survey is a nationally representative survey that asks over 200,000 people about non-fatal crimes that happened to them in the past year.

Since 1999, it has asked victims if they suspected their victimization was motivated by certain biases, and if so, the reason for the bias. We use the National Crime Victimization Survey classification of hate crimes, which is consistent with the Bureau of Justice Statistics classification: victimizations that involve hate language, hate symbols, or were confirmed by police to be a hate crime.

Since 2017, the National Crime Victimization Survey has been documenting sexual orientation and gender identity of respondents. This has allowed us to estimate the rate of hate crimes against LGBTQ people for the first time.

Physical and psychological repercussions

Another notable finding from our study suggested that violent hate crimes involving LGBTQ victims have unique characteristics .

Prior research has suggested that LGBTQ victims of hate crime frequently did not know the offender. In our analyses, 49% of violent hate crimes with LGBTQ victims involved an attacker who was a close friend, family member, partner or former partner.

We also found that LGBTQ victims of violent hate crimes were more likely to have physical and psychological symptoms as a result of the attack when compared with LGBTQ victims of violent crimes that were not hate crimes.

For example, LGBTQ victims of violent hate crimes were four times more likely to feel worried or anxious as a result of the incident than LGBTQ victims of non-hate violence. Despite this, we found that only about 1 in 3 LGBTQ victims of violent hate crimes sought professional help for their symptoms.

Hate crimes don’t just affect the victims

Our findings complement a series of studies relying on the National Crime Victimization Survey that showed that LGBTQ people are generally victims of crimes at higher rates than cisgender and straight people, with bisexual women having markedly higher victimization rates than lesbians, and transgender people having higher victimization rates than cisgender people.

Hate crimes do not just affect an individual – whole communities can be affected by hate. In what’s known as “collective trauma,” LGBTQ people often internalize the violence inflicted on other members of the community.

LGTBQ people are still recovering from the November 2022 mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ bar in Colorado Springs. The accused shooter has been charged with 48 counts of hate-motivated violence.

Our findings allow us to more fully characterize the stories of LGBT victims – and the heightened danger they face across the country.

Lynn Langton contributed to this article.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Andrew Ryan Flores
Andrew Ryan Flores

Andrew R. Flores is an Assistant Professor of Government at the School of Public Affairs and a Visiting Scholar at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. His research focuses on attitude formation, attitude change, and public policies affecting LGBTQ populations. His research has appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Journal of Public Health, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Psychology, and other peer reviewed journals. Dr. Flores is currently a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Consensus Committee on the Well-being of Sexual and Gender Diverse Populations in the U.S. Dr. Flores has interest in LGBTQ politics and policy, race, ethnicity and politics, public opinion and political behavior, political representation, data visualization, data science, and political methodology.

Ilan H. Meyer
Ilan H. Meyer

Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D., is the Williams Distinguished Senior Scholar for Public Policy at the Williams Institute and Professor Emeritus of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University. In several highly cited papers, Meyer has developed a model of minority stress. The model has guided his and other investigators’ population research on LGBT health disparities by identifying the processes by which social stressors impact health and describing the harm to LGBT people from prejudice and stigma. Meyer is the Principal Investigator of the Generations Study, a U.S. national probability study of stress, identity, health, and health care utilization across three cohorts of sexual minorities, and TransPop, the first national probability sample of transgender individuals in the U.S. Meyer received a Ph.D. in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University.

Rebecca Stotzer
Rebecca Stotzer

Rebecca Stotzer is currently a Professor and the Director of Distance Education at the University of Hawaii Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. Her teaching has focused on policy, research methods, and human behavior. Her research focuses on hate crimes, policy and law, sexual orientation/gender/gender identity, social justice, and oppression.