The Williams Institute has just released “LGBT Asian and Pacific Islander Individuals and Same-sex Couples,” a study that provides data on a variety of social, economic, and demographic characteristics of the Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. NQAPIA recognizes the lack of sufficient research on our communities and commends the Williams Institute for taking this important step.
Because of the diverse nature of the AAPI population, with over 18 million people representing over 40 ethnic communities, aggregate data for the community masks some of the realities and disparities in our community. For example, while data on educational attainment for AAPIs overall trends higher than other ethnic groups and perpetuates a “model minority myth,” we know that challenges of language access and socioeconomic status are a part of a more complex picture where groups like Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders have dramatically lower levels of education.
The Williams Institute’s inclusion of separate data for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders is a good step to take, and while we are glad that they acknowledge the need for disaggregated data, the overarching conclusions and key findings about success for AAPI same-sex couples require a closer look about how different ethnic groups may have dramatically different outcomes. We also know that language matters and that the methodologies for multilingual survey research in our communities that are conducted in the languages we speak are better able to access a more representative sample.
We welcome the opportunity this important study provides to have a conversation about AAPI LGBT communities and are eager to engage the Williams Institute, as well as other institutions that create and use this kind of research about how best to work with our communities to get the best information.