The mission of Santa Clara County is to “plan for the needs of a dynamic community, provide quality services, and promote a healthy, safe and prosperous community for all.” Two of the County’s core values are “collaborate within and across departments for the good of the customer and community” and “create an inclusive environment that supports the diversity of our community.”
A part of the dynamic, diverse community that Santa Clara County serves are those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ). While it is difficult to estimate how many people identify as LGBTQ, a 2018 national survey found that the estimate of LGBTQ population had risen to 4.5% in 2017.1 Other estimates suggest that LGBTQ individuals make up about 4% of the adult population of California 2 and around 4% in Santa Clara County specifically.3
The LGBTQ community is one that has traditionally been underrepresented in our government, underserved by institutions, and under recognized by society. The socioeconomic outcomes for this community are often far worse than they are for the population at-large.
There have been numerous studies illuminating these discrepancies, including Santa Clara County’s December 2013 health assessment “Status of LGBTQ Health: Santa Clara County 2013.”
This health assessment concluded that, “… the LGBTQ community experiences substantial health disparities and health inequities. Our assessment found that the LGBTQ community experiences a high level of need for social services, particularly affordable housing, and uncovered a lack of awareness of available services and a shortage of LGBTQ-competent services." 4
Consider these factors and statistics measured by Santa Clara County’s health assessment, as well as by a myriad of other national sources:
- Poverty: Lesbian, gay and bisexual adults are more likely to live below 200% of the federal poverty line than heterosexual adults.5
- Homelessness: In Santa Clara County, LGBTQ individuals comprise 29% of homeless youth and young adults under the age of 25 and 10% of homeless adults ages 25 and older.6
- School Harassment: A national survey of youth at school found 81% of LGBTQ youth were verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation, 44% of youth were physically harassed and 20% were physically assaulted.7
- Juvenile Justice: A disproportionate number of youth in Juvenile Justice Systems – 13% – identify as LGBT.8
- Suicide: Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.9 Nearly half of transgender respondents in the County’s health assessment seriously considered suicide or hurting themselves during the past 12 months.10
- Physical Assault: Our County’s health assessment found that 10% of LGBTQ survey respondents were physically attacked or injured in the past 12 months because of sexual orientation or gender identity.11
- Intimate Partner Violence: That same assessment found that even though more than 1 out of every 5 LGBTQ respondents reported having been hit, slapped, pushed, kicked, or physically hurt by an intimate partner at some point, 3 out of every 4 who experienced this violence did not report it to law enforcement.12
- Hate Crimes: While the overall number of hate crimes committed in the U.S. from 1996 to 2011 dropped nearly 30%, the number of anti-gay hate crimes committed during that time actually rose from 1,206 to 1,256.13
- Seniors: A national survey of people ages 45 to 75 found that LGBTQ respondents are 7% more likely to rely on government when planning for retirement and 40% of LGBTQ people in their 60s and 70s state that their health care providers do not know their sexual orientation.14
- Healthcare: Respondents to the County’s health assessment stated that there are not enough health professionals who are adequately trained to work with LGBTQ people; more than 1 in 10 respondents reported some type of discriminatory treatment by healthcare professionals in the past 12 months.15
- Mental Health and Substance Use: Nearly half of those who responded in the assessment felt they might have needed professional help in the past 12 months because of mental health or substance use concerns.16
There are many different factors that create inequitable environments for the LGBTQ community. Our office is dedicated to eradicating these inequities through programs, policies, and research to help further the LGBTQ movement. Below you can view some numbers-at-a-glance around a couple of topics that our office is focused on, including but not limited to: Transgender Employment, Inclusive Restroom Access, Youth in Schools, Juvenile Justice, Seniors, and Health and Wellness. We have displayed these statistics, that have been gathered through many different sources, through a rotating infographic to share some context of why our work is needed to further impact towards equity.
We invite you to scroll and read through the infographic. Clicking on a particular statistic will direct you to learn more about Our Work or to learn more about the specific policy, program, or research project. Clicking on the footnote will bring you to the source of the statistic.
Explore our Footnotes section below to further read about these gathered statistics.
13. NBC News
14. Sage USA