Perceptions of Safety Among LGBTQ People Following the 2016 Pulse Nightclub Shooting

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Abstract

The goals of this manuscript are twofold. First, we provide a brief reaction to this journal’s “Special Section: Reflections on the Orlando Massacre on its First Anniversary.” Second, we present findings from a study on perceptions of safety among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals following the Pulse shooting. These issues are discussed within the historical context of hate crimes experienced by the LGBTQ population (Herek), media coverage following the shooting (Hancock and Halderman), and the immediate reaction of LGBTQ graduate students to the event (Jackson). Our study sought to examine differences in perceptions of personal and peer safety by race/ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation among a large, diverse sample of LGBTQ people. Findings from our study indicate that there were differences in perceptions of personal safety by gender identity, and differences in perceptions of peer safety by gender identity and sexual orientation. These findings also suggest that subgroups of the LGBTQ community with more marginalized gender and sexual identities (e.g., female, transgender, genderqueer, bisexual, queer respondents) perceived more concerns related to safety, on average, than subgroups with relatively more privilege (e.g., gay, male). Elevated safety concern may exacerbate multiple minority stress burden, a known driver of poor health outcomes among LGBTQ people. These findings are a call to action to health care providers to be well informed and trained to provide the appropriate care and counseling referrals that can address the safety-related concerns of LGBTQ individuals in the aftermath of identity-related attacks.

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