Majority oppose anti-transgender bathroom bills

By Lisa Neff, Staff writer

A majority of Americans say anti-LGBT lawmakers can flush bills aimed at prohibiting transgender people from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

A poll conducted by the nonpartisan PRRI shows 53 percent of Americans oppose measures requiring transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth rather than their gender identity. About 39 percent favor such laws.

The survey reveals a partisan divide on the issue: About 65 percent of Democrats, 57 percent of independents and 36 percent of Republicans oppose the “bathroom” bills.

On a related question, the survey shows familiarly with transgender people is on the rise: About 21 percent of Americans report having a close friend or family member who is transgender, nearly double the percentage who said the same in 2011.

People also were asked for their opinions on same-sex marriage, faith-based discrimination, nondiscrimination laws and immigration.

The marriage question

About 63 percent of Americans favor same-sex couples legally marrying. Just four years ago, the percentage was only slightly more than half.

“Although support for same-sex marriage steadily rose through the 2000s and early 2010s, support levels remained relatively flat across 2015,” said Daniel Cox, PRRI research director. “But we are now seeing a renewed upward trend — even among groups who have traditionally been more opposed.”

About 76 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of independents and 45 percent of Republicans support legalized same-sex marriage. Among Republicans under the age of 50, support is at 57 percent.

By region, support for same-sex marriage is at 69 percent in the Northeast, 68 percent in the West, 67 percent in the Midwest and 54 percent in the South.

White evangelicals stand out as the only major religious group in the country to strongly oppose same-sex marriage.

Bias and faith

About 64 percent oppose allowing small-business owners to refuse to provide products or services to gay or lesbian people because of religious beliefs.

A majority of white evangelical Protestants favor religiously based service refusals, but only 32 percent of white mainline Protestants, 28 percent of Catholics, 24 percent of black Protestants and 18 percent of members of non-Christian traditions support religious exemptions for small-business owners.

The survey also shows about 70 percent of Americans support laws banning anti-LGBT discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing.

Other findings in the PRRI poll:

n 71 percent oppose allowing places of worship to endorse political candidates while retaining a tax-exempt status.

n 64 percent say immigrants face a lot of discrimination in the United States.

n 50 percent say religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about LGBT issues.

The survey included 2,031 adults. PRRI said the margin of error is plus or minus 2.6. The survey was conducted by telephone, including calls to mobile phones.