Researchers at Vanderbilt University will examine how public policies affect the health and economics of LGBT people. The school announced Tuesday that it secured a $400,000 grant for the project from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The researchers will compare data across states to study, for example, how North Carolina’s transgender bathroom bill affects those people’s economic livelihood, or how LGBT non-discrimination policies affect diversity in the workforce.
They will also look at the impact of legalizing same-sex marriage and passing laws designed to protect religious freedom.
These are hot topics, but lead researcher Christopher Carpenter says not much is known about their impact.
“These are policies that are being actively passed, adopted, debated in state legislatures throughout the United States, and evidence on their effects — either good, bad, intended, unintended — is scant at best,” says Carpenter, an economics professor at Vanderbilt.
Carpenter’s team will analyze data that’s already being collected, mostly from government sources. This sort of mass analysis about LGBT populations wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago: Government agencies have only recently started asking about sexual orientation on their surveys, although still not many ask about gender identity.