Press Release - State Survey and Bullying

January 13, 2011

Columbia, SC   January 13, 2011- South Carolina Equality is the state’s gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender (GLBT) education and political advocacy organization that works to create a discrimination-free South Carolina.  During the summer of 2010, South Carolina Equality conducted a statewide survey of GLBT South Carolinians.
Distributed both online through email, networking and social media as well as in writing through mail and pride day functions throughout the state, over  1,000 people responded from 44 of South Carolina’s 46 Counties.  Respondents were allowed to take the survey only once. According to survey results, not only are gay and transgender South Carolinians proud to call South Carolina their home, seven in ten have lived here for more than ten years and 53% have lived here more than 20 years.
SC Equality Executive Director, Christine Johnson stated, “This state-wide survey has invited gay and transgender South Carolinians to define themselves, rather than being defined by others.  It has allowed them to make a collective statement about the importance of family, faith and community in their lives. It has also highlighted areas of great concern with regard to bullying, homophobia and discrimination.”
In response to the 48% who experienced bullying in SC’s public schools, Johnson said,  “The survey clearly shows that S.C.’s gay and transgender youth experience more than twice the average amount of bullying and harassment.  2010 saw a rash of teen suicides as a direct result of bullying.  We should be more motivated than ever to enact legislation that promotes safe learning environments for all our children. We look to our elected officials to lead the charge against bullying.”
Survey results also reflected a significant commitment to faith among GLBT respondents.  86% of respondents were raised Protestant, with most having Baptist upbringing.  Johnson hopes faith communities will find a way to both respect their faith and the authenticity of each individual. “Our faith leaders have a tremendous opportunity to preach tolerance and kindness rather than disdain and hostility.  So many families are torn apart because faith leaders give ultimatums rather than opportunity.  The circle of community should be wide and loving, not narrow and hateful.” Survey respondents were asked to volunteer information about their families, contributions to charitable organizations, community volunteering history, workplace experiences, harassment, etc. and were invited to make comments about their experiences in the state of South Carolina. Survey results are being distributed to all elected officials within executive and legislative branches of state government as well as mayors and council members throughout South Carolina.