Global parents’ views of the LGBT community are loosening up — and entertainment has a powerful influence upon their attitudes, according to a new study.
On a recent episode of Nickelodeon’s new animated series The Loud House, a married gay couple takes their son to his friend Lincoln Loud’s house for a sleepover. When Lincoln hears a knock at the door, he opens it to greet them: “Hey, Clyde. Hi, Mr. McBride. Hi, Mr. McBride.”
This scene was the first portrayal of a married gay couple in Nickelodeon’s history—and around the world, parents are more open than ever LGBT representation in children’s programming. Lincoln’s cheerfully blasé response reflects a growing acceptance of LGBT people among parents, as revealed by a study recently released by Logo and Viacom, the ILGA-RIWI 2016 “Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People,” which polled nearly 100,000 respondents in 65 countries.
Global parents’ views of the LGBT community are evolving, according to this research. A third of parents said their feelings toward LGBT people had become more favorable over the last five years, compared with 12% who reported that their feelings have become less favorable. Parents in Europe (40%), Latin America (37%) and the United States (31%) were most likely to say their attitudes have improved.
This openness extends to their own children’s gender identity. Close to half of global parents said they would find it acceptable if their child dressed or expressed him- or herself as the opposite gender. However, they are more comfortable with this behavior in girls (48% would find it acceptable) than boys (42%). European parents are most open in this regard, with 77% finding this behavior acceptable for girls and 71% for boys.
When it comes to sentiments about the LGBT community, personal connections make a difference for parents (just like for people in general). Global parents who reported that their attitudes had become more favorable said that knowing someone was the #1 influence. This was particularly the case in the US and Latin America, where people were 48% more likely to say that knowing an LGBT person had caused their impression to change for the better.
Entertainment also has the power to transform perceptions. Globally, parents with more favorable attitudes ranked this as the #2 influence. In the Middle East and Africa, where people are less likely to know an LGBT person, entertainment was the #1 reason for shifting parents’ views more positively.
To that end, 20% of global parents say they’d be more likely to accept LGBT people if their favorite celebrity did, too. Parents in Asia (31%) and North Africa/Middle East (23%) were most likely to agree with that statement.
As global parents see LGBT people more in both their personal lives and in the entertainment they consume, their perceptions of the LGBT community will continue to improve. With that in mind, the Loud House’s illustration of the McBride family is a powerful first step towards more inclusive views among parents and children alike.