A good starting place, encyclopedias can provide general background information and may suggest directions for research.
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(Jason Goecke via Flickr with Creative Commons)
These resources provide helpful background and history, statistics, and current trends around controversial topics:
The Pew Research Center provides information and reports on "on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world." A great source of current statistics and analysis.
For a local or regional perspective on your topic: