the effects of coming out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual

Many people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual struggle with the question of when and whether to come out to friends, family, and community. [1] I have often heard that it’s important to do so in order to change minds in favor of LGB rights. But quantitatively, what are the impacts of coming out? In a given case, it undoubtedly depends on a whole host of factors regarding the individuals and circumstances involved. But I decided to look at the average effects of knowing someone who has identified themselves LGB on a person’s attitudes about LGB political and social issues.

If you want to skip to the punchline: coming out has a substantial favorable impact (at least 10 percentage points on average) on the attitudes of others about LGB issues. The size of the effect varies in terms of the relationship between the people involved and their demographics, as well as the issues involved. Coming out can also have an effect on prejudice against other groups, not just LGBs. For details and citations, keep reading.

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