Society

Poll: Most Americans Oppose Transgender Bathroom Laws

| by Robert Fowler

New polling by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute suggests that the majority of Americans do not support laws that restrict transgender people from using public bathrooms that do not correspond with their gender identity. The majority of Democrats and independents oppose such proposals, while a majority of Republicans support them.

On March 10, the survey conducted by PRRI found that 53 percent of national adults are against laws that would prohibit transgender people from using restrooms that correspond with their gender identity rather than those that match their physical gender at birth. 39 percent of respondents favored these laws.

Breaking down the data, the poll found that 65 percent of self-identified Democrats and 57 percent of self-identified independents opposed transgender bathroom laws. Only 30 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents were in favor.

Meanwhile, 59 percent of self-identified Republicans supported passing restrictions on transgender bathroom use, while 36 percent were opposed.

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"This is a case where it really is Republicans kind of pulling away and being more of an outlier to the rest of the country," chief executive Robert P. Jones of PRRI told Reuters.

The survey also found that 64 percent of Americans without a religious affiliation and 56 percent of Catholics opposed transgender bathroom laws. 50 percent of white evangelicals were in favor of such proposals, while 45 percent were against. Non-white Protestants were evenly split on the issue, with 45 percent in favor and 45 percent against.

The poll found that 65 percent of overall respondents agree that bullying against LGBT students is a major problem in American schools, while 29 percent did not believe it was a pressing issue. A consensus that LGBT teens face discrimination was present across party lines.

64 percent of all respondents believe that transgender people face a lot of discrimination. Perception differed between Democrats and Republicans; 82 percent of Democrats believed that transgender people currently face a lot of discrimination, while only 48 percent of Republicans agree. Transgendered people tied with Christians as the group that Republicans believe currently face the most discrimination in the U.S.

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The poll also found that only 21 percent of respondents had a close friend or family member who is transgender, while 77 percent did not. This marked a significant increase from 2011, when the same polling group found that only 11 percent of respondents had a friend or family member who was transgender.

On Feb. 22, the Department of Justice and Department of Education jointly rescinded  a federal guidance from the administration of former President Barack Obama that public schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

"As President Trump has clearly stated, he believes policy regarding transgender bathrooms should be decided at the state level," the White House said in a statement, according to CNN.

The U.S. Supreme Court was set to hear oral arguments of a case between transgender high school student Gavin Grimm of Virginia and his county school board, who he asserts had violated his constitutional rights by refusing him access to the boys' public restroom. A SCOTUS ruling on the case could have provided clarity on whether or not transgender people are protected under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in public schools, according to The Economist.

On March 6, SCOTUS announced that it would not hear the oral arguments and remanded the case to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sources: CNN, The EconomistPRRI, Reuters / Photo Credit: Ted Eytan/Flickr

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