The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Discrimination, Victimization, and Harassment: Intersection of Isms On Lgbtq People of Color

Saturday, January 18, 2014: 3:00 PM
Marriott Riverwalk, Alamo Ballroom Salon E, 2nd Floor Elevator Level BR (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Darren Whitfield, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Lisa Langenderfer, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Denver, Denver, CO
N. Eugene Walls, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Denver, Denver, CO

Purpose: Anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) discrimination and harassment are significant problems. More than half of all LGBTQ individuals report being the victim of discrimination and harassment throughout their lives (Martin & Alessi, 2012). The present study examines the influence of race in the rates of discrimination and harassment for White LGBTQ people and LGBTQ people of color (POC). Authors present data on the disproportionate prevalence and daily frequency of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and harassment within the LGBTQ community.

Methods: Using the 2010 Colorado LGBTQ community needs assessment survey (N=4,619) and the 2011 One Colorado health survey (N=1,193), collected by One Colorado, a statewide advocacy organization, researchers compared the rates of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and harassment between White LGBTQ people and LGBTQ POC. The data were collected using online surveys, available in English and Spanish, advertised to potential participants via One Colorado's email list, partner organizations’ member lists, and Facebook. Participants were asked to identify contexts within which they have experienced discrimination and harassment and the frequency of the discrimination and harassment. Data analyses include descriptive statistics and Chi square test of independence to determine differences in prevalence and frequency by race.

Results: The data indicate that while a majority of LGBTQ individuals report being victims of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and harassment, LGBTQ POC experience greater levels of anti-LGBTA discrimination than do White LGBTQ people. This includes employment discrimination (X2  (1) = 6.33, p < .05), housing discrimination (X2  (1) = 61.50, p < .001), and harassment by law enforcement (X2  (1) = 3.72, p < .001).

Additionally the data indicate a higher frequency of daily or more frequent anti-LGBTQ discrimination and harassment for LGBTQ people of color compared to White LGBTQ participants across a number of different social settings. These include employment discrimination (X2 (1) = 6.93, p < .01), harassment in public establishments (X2 (1) = 23.34, p < .001), and harassment on the street (X2 (1) = 21.3, p <  .001).

Implications: The findings suggest that the intersection of race and sexual orientation creates elevated levels of discrimination beyond the already elevated rates of discrimination experienced by members of the LGBTQ community for LGBTQ POC. It is imperative that social workers understand the unique influence of race on the experiences of LGBTQ POC in the social environment, in order to create a more inclusive society for the LGBTQ POC.


Martin, J. I., & Alessi, E. J. (2012). Victimization in a nationwide sample of gay and bisexual men. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 34, 26-0-273.