GLAAD’s annual study of diversity in television marked this year as a high point for LGBTQ representation, with a record high of 6.4 percent of characters on primetime identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer.
The organization’s “Where We Are on TV” report found that for the 2017-2018 season, out of 901 characters on broadcast, 58 identified as LGBTQ—up from 42 last year.
Meanwhile, in a separate study Tegna was singled out as a top place to work for LGBTQ employees.
The 2018 Corporate Equality Index administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation gave the company a 100 when it comes to corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality.
“Tegna’s perfect CEI score represents our commitment to equality, a fundamental value of our company,” said Dave Lougee, Tegna president and CEO. “We must reflect the communities we serve and our diverse and inclusive workforce helps us inform, understand and engage with all of our audiences.”
READ MORE: Tegna Named A Best Place To Work For LGBTQ
While the research points to significant strides in diversity, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis highlighted growing concern around declining acceptance of LGBTQ lifestyles amid the current U.S. political climate.
“As LGBTQ acceptance in government and the broader American culture reverses course, television is a critical home for LGBTQ stories and representation matters more than ever,” Ellis said. “At a time when the Trump administration is trying to render LGBTQ people invisible, representing LGBTQ people in all of our diversity in scripted TV programs is an essential counterbalance that gives LGBTQ people stories to relate to and moves the broader public to support LGBTQ people and families.”
Additionally, while the number of LGBTQ characters is the highest since GLAAD began keeping track 22 years ago, data shows that most are white: 77 percent and 62 percent on streaming and cable, respectively—as well as male: 55 percent on broadcast.
In terms of people of ethnic backgrounds who play series regulars on broadcast, the breakdown is: 18 percent black; 8 percent Latin American, and 7 percent Asian-Pacific Islander.
Lesbian representation also rose from 17 percent last season to 24 percent this season, while women remained pretty even at 43 percent, with only a one percent drop from last season. The number of bisexual characters slightly decreased across broadcast, cable and streaming platforms, and the majority of bisexual characters were women.
For the first time ever GLAAD also counted non-binary and asexual characters, pointing to Raphael on Freeform’s Shadowhunters and Todd on Netflix’s BoJack Horseman.
Yet despite the obvious progress, many of the characters, while representing diversity, are still cast in stereotypical roles and narratives.
“Numbers are only a small part of the story when it comes to LGBTQ representation on TV and simply being present on screen is not enough,” said Megan Townsend, director of entertainment research and analysis at GLAAD. “While we’re pleased to see numbers on the rise, consideration of how LGBTQ characters are woven into storylines and whose stories are making it to screen is crucial for judging progress of the industry. And there is still work to be done.”