Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Americans move dramatically toward acceptance of homosexuality: Young people lead the changes

Date:
September 29, 2011
Source:
University of Chicago
Summary:
Although sharply divided, public attitudes toward gays and lesbians are rapidly changing to reflect greater acceptance, with younger generations leading the way, research shows. In addition to a plurality who now approve of same-sex marriage, Americans overwhelmingly support basic civil liberties and freedom of expression for gays and lesbians, in contrast to sharp division on such issues in the 1970s.

A plurality of Americans now support marriage of people of the same sex, a major change in the last few years.
Credit: University of Chicago

Although sharply divided, public attitudes toward gays and lesbians are rapidly changing to reflect greater acceptance, with younger generations leading the way, research by NORC at the University of Chicago shows.

In addition to a plurality who now approve of same-sex marriage, Americans overwhelmingly support basic civil liberties and freedom of expression for gays and lesbians, in contrast to sharp division on such issues in the 1970s. Taken together, the results show a clear "trend toward greater tolerance regarding homosexuality," said Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey at NORC and author of the NORC report, "Public Attitudes toward Homosexuality."

The rise in support for same-sex marriage has been especially dramatic over the last two decades. It went from 11 percent approval in 1988 to 46 percent in 2010, compared to 40 percent who were opposed, producing a narrow plurality in favor for the first time. The report is based on findings of the latest General Social Survey, conducted in 2010 with a cross sample of more than 2,000 people.

"There is a large generation gap on the issue [of same-sex marriage]," Smith said. While 64 percent of those under 30 back same-sex marriage, only 27 percent of those 70 and older support it.

Acceptance of homosexuality in general also reflects the generational difference in opinion. In 2010, 26 percent of the people surveyed who were under 30 said they felt same-sex behavior is "always wrong," while 63 percent of the people aged 70 and older held that opinion.

As a result of the generational division, public attitudes are sharply divided on the issue. Although 44 percent of the people surveyed felt that sexual relations between two adults of the same sex is always wrong, another 41 percent thought such relations were "not wrong at all."

"Just 11 percent were in the middle, saying it was either 'almost always wrong' or 'wrong only sometimes.' Public opinion is thus highly polarized on this issue, with few people sharing the middle ground," Smith said.

The GSS, which has been conducted biennially for 40 years, showed a marked increase in support of many civil liberties for gays and lesbians. Support for a gay person's right to speak before a public audience increased from 62 percent in 1972 to 86 percent in 2010; support for allowing gays and lesbians to teach at colleges or universities rose from 48 percent in 1973 to 84 percent in 2010; and approval for having a library keep a book that favors homosexuality rose from 54 percent in 1973 to 78 percent in 2010.

The change toward acceptance of homosexuality began in the late 1980s after years of remaining relatively constant. In 1973, 70 percent of people felt same-sex relations are "always wrong," and in 1987, 75 percent held that view. By 2000, however, that number dropped to 54 percent and by 2010 was down to 43.5 percent.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, the General Social Survey monitors societal change and the growing complexity of American society. With the exception of the U.S. Census, the GSS is the most widely used source of information about social trends and attitudes.

Public Attitudes Toward Homosexuality.pdf


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago. "Americans move dramatically toward acceptance of homosexuality: Young people lead the changes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928125403.htm>.
University of Chicago. (2011, September 29). Americans move dramatically toward acceptance of homosexuality: Young people lead the changes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928125403.htm
University of Chicago. "Americans move dramatically toward acceptance of homosexuality: Young people lead the changes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928125403.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins