Book chapter

LGBT Candidates and Elected Officials in North America (2020)

in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics

Abstract

The representation of LGBTQ individuals has improved substantially in Canada, Mexico, and the United States in the past few decades; however, the numbers holding elected office are still quite small. Several factors have contributed to the level of success of these candidates, including: changes in public opinion toward LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ candidates in particular, their own levels of political ambition, their alignment with different political parties and the support that they receive from these organizations, media coverage of their candidacies and their policy positions, and finally their support from institutions of civil society such as political action committees or other social movement organizations. It is clear that in all three countries these candidates, when elected, contribute symbolically, through serving as role models to other LGBTQ individuals and increasing levels of acceptance among their non-LGBTQ colleagues. They also promote substantive representation through their support and promotion of policies that address LGBTQ issues and concerns.