You’ve saved up for the down payment, conducted extensive online research and engaged with a Realtor to guide you through the process of becoming a homeowner, help you find the perfect home and get you to closing.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community want just that — a typical real estate transaction. However, we are fully aware and fear that housing discrimination can rear its ugly head and prevent a smooth process. These fears wouldn’t be unfounded.
Many in the real estate community are surprised to learn that sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes under the Fair Housing Act. In fact, 27 states offer no housing protections for LBGTQ+ people. That is why the Equality Act, which would make housing discrimination and credit discrimination against our community at the federal level illegal, is so important.
A recent survey of LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance members revealed where that discrimination is visible. More than 1 in 10 experienced discrimination from a real estate professional in the renting and homebuying process, and that nearly 1 in 7 reported they signed legal forms (mortgage, purchase agreement, title, etc.) that did not adequately represent their life experience.
We know that housing discrimination — and the fear of discrimination — plays a role in the LGBTQ+ community’s low homeownership rate. UCLA’s Williams Institute shares that the LGBTQ+ homeownership rate is 49.8 percent, almost a 16-point gap from the overall U.S. mark of 65.6 percent just reported by the U.S. Census.
Obviously, discrimination against an LGBTQ+ person does not begin with the homebuying process. For many of us, it goes all the way back to our teen years. The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance believes that discrimination’s cumulative effect on an LGBTQ+ person’s life can play an outsized role on the journey to homeownership.
With the assistance of Freddie Mac, we delved deeper into this theory in our comprehensive report, “How Discrimination Affects the LGBTQ+ Community on the Journey to Homeownership and Beyond.”
For the LGBTQ+ community, the path to homeownership can begin as early as high school. You might say, “That’s crazy! No high school kids are buying houses at that age.” And you’re correct. But discrimination in high school can negatively impact academic performance, which might affect the likelihood of attending college.
If discrimination continues or begins in college, that, too, may impact academic performance and subsequent earning power. And in the workplace, discrimination still exists, and it can thwart careers.
Here are some sobering statistics from our research:
- 63 percent of LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance members who responded to a survey shared that bullying, discrimination and/or fear of discrimination in high school had a least some impact on their academic performance.
- 13.4 percent of LGBTQ+ high school students who experienced frequent verbal harassment do not plan to attend college.
- 40 percent of Alliance members reported that these same concerns in high school and/or college impacted their earning potential early in their career.
- 65.1 percent of LGBTQ+ undergraduate students report experiencing harassing behavior since enrolling in college.
- 47 percent of LGBTQ+ employees report that being “out” at work could damage their career.
And in other positive developments, the report also finds that societal acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is apparently allowing more people to be their authentic selves: Gallup just reported that 5.6 percent of Americans identify as LGBTQ+, a dramatic rise from 3.9 percent just five years ago.
And the numbers will certainly rise as 15.9 percent of Gen Z report they are part of the community followed by 9.1 percent of millennials. Only 2 percent of baby boomers identify as LGBTQ+.
The path forward for our community is improving and optimism brewing. Nearly 70 percent of Alliance members surveyed believe that the Biden administration will be a positive force and President Biden’s policies will have a positive impact on LGBTQ+ homeownership rates.
Although most of our society is working to evolve and welcome all individuals, no matter the color of their skin, ethnic background, gender identity or sexual orientation, I think we all understand that we are contending with a dynamic and unique time in our nation’s history. There is animosity against diverse groups, including the LGBTQ+ community, from those who are trying to maintain their perceived standing.
We should all be working to eliminate this hatred and discrimination. This evolution is critical because too often, too many of us have to hope we can be treated with the respect every human being deserves. It’s definitely not guaranteed.
And so our mission continues.