Yes Virginia, There Really is Anti-Gay Housing Discrimination

This was released a few weeks ago, but I don’t remember noticing it or commenting on it at the time. A new study by the Urban Institute predictably found that there is significant discrimination against gay and trans people in the housing market.

Attribution: Benson Kua
Attribution: Benson Kua

In Los Angeles and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where researchers sought to compare the experiences of gay men to heterosexual men and lesbians to heterosexual women, field testers posed as equally qualified rental home seekers who differed only in their sexual orientation. In Washington, D.C., the researchers compared the experiences of transgender and non-transgender people seeking a rental home.

After more than 2,000 paired tests across the three three metropolitan areas, the pilot study found gay men and transgender people — though not lesbians — were treated differently by housing providers. House providers told gay men about fewer available rental units, quoted them higher prices and were less likely to schedule appointments with them. Transgender people were less likely to be told about available rental units than their non-transgender counterparts.

“Differential treatment matters,” Diane Levy, the study’s author and a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, said in a statement emailed to NBC Out. “When people are discriminated against in their housing searches, not only does it go against our collective value of equal opportunity, but it limits their options for where to live, which can affect how they get to work, the schools their children attend, and other facets of their daily lives.”

This is why we need to add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the Civil Rights Act at the federal level. Some states have such protections, as do some local governments, but most don’t. This kind of discrimination is manifestly against the most basic principles of equality and fairness. This is how people get herded into ghettos and a bigoted power structure that punishes people for nothing more than being who they are is maintained.

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