Pilot study on the effects of an LGBT-focused documentary on attitudes, knowledge, and empathy towards LGBT individuals

LGBT individuals face disproportionate amounts of social stress and discrimination. The purpose of this experimental pilot study was to determine the effects of viewing an LGBT documentary on heterosexual individuals' attitudes, knowledge, and empathy towards LGBT individuals, as well as to examine the effects of this film on those who have a strong religious commitment. Participants/college students were randomly assigned to each condition (i.e., the treatment group or control group). Students in the treatment group viewed a 90-minute LGBT film (on topics such as coming out, family rejection, harassment, microaggression and overt aggression, as well as acceptance and support). Students in the control group viewed a 90-minute documentary on the history and culture of New Zealand. Participants in both groups filled out pre and post surveys regarding their attitudes, empathy and knowledge about LGBT individuals. Results showed that, compared to those with lower levels of religiosity, individuals with high levels of religiosity hold significantly more negative attitudes and have less knowledge about LGBT individuals. As hypothesized, there was a significant change in attitudes pre to post for the treatment group. There were no significant changes for the control group.