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Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender survey finds nearly 4 in 10 rejected by family or friend

An overwhelming majority - 92 percent - of America's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community say they feel more accepted today than 10 years ago; however 53 percent still feel that discrimination exists.

The Pew Research Center survey on the LGBT population, released Thursday, also shows that nearly four in 10 LGBT American adults, or 39 percent, have been rejected by family or friends because of their sexual orientation.

"It's a combination of progress on so many fronts and increased openness combined with so much work yet to be done," Lee Swislow, executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Boston-based advocacy group known as GLAD, told

In the Pew survey, 30 percent of respondents said they have been physically attacked or threatened. Just recently, in May in New York City, a gay man was shot and killed in the Greenwich Village neighborhood in an attack that the New York Police Department deemed a hate crime.

Six in 10 LGBT adults said they have been victim to slurs or jokes targeting their sexuality, and 21 percent said they have been treated unfairly by an employer.

"People are afraid to come out of the closet at work because they're afraid that they won't be accepted ... It's not the, 'I'm not hiring you because you're gay,' it's the subtle culture that's created in a lot of workplaces in which heterosexuality is the norm and that has a chilling effect on gay people," said Swislow.

The survey of 1,197 adults found that 12 years old is the average age for which homosexual adults first thought they may be something else besides straight.

The average age for coming out to family or a friend was 20, according to the survey, and gay men tend to come out earlier than gay women.

"Certainly with the increased portrayal of LGBT people in the media, with famous figures coming out, with social media, I think young people who in the past knew they were different and didn't have names for it now can better identify, 'Oh this is me,'" said Swislow.

Few LGBT adults said their sexual orientation had ruined their relationship with their parent although most agreed telling a parent was difficult. Fifty-six percent of respondents came out to their mothers and 39 percent to their fathers.

While a slim majority of Americans - 51 percent - favor same-sex marriage, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll released last week, the number is much higher in the LGBT community, according to the survey, with 93 percent supporting same-sex marriage.

"Those of us who live in some of the marriage states can lose sight of what it's like for so many LGBT people across the country," said Swislow. "We've created a world where young people are coming out earlier, but have we created a world where it is safe for them to do so?"

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