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A majority of Americans oppose anti-trans bathroom laws, survey shows

A majority of Americans are against anti-trans bathroom laws

State lawmakers across the U.S. are advancing so-called “bathroom bill” legislation designed to prevent transgender people from choosing the bathroom they feel comfortable using. But a new survey suggests the majority of Americans aren’t too fussed about the issue.

The Public Religion Research Institute, a D.C.-based nonprofit that measures American religious attitudes, surveyed 2,031 of adults in the United States. More than half of the respondents were interviewed on a mobile phone, important to reach a cross-section of young people who tend not to have land lines.

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said they were opposed to bathroom bills, the most recently seen in Texas; a Senate committee on Wednesday voted to advance such a discriminatory measure, despite large protests. Nearly one in 10 Americans said they had no opinion on the issue. Thirty-nine percent of Americans said they were in favor of such laws.

Unsurprisingly, the survey also found that views on bathroom access for trans Americans fell largely along partisan lines; 59 percent of Republicans favored bathroom bills, compared to 30 percent of Democrats.

Religious affiliation was a murkier variable than political affiliation, the survey found. Sixty-four percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans were against bathroom bills, as were 56 percent of Catholics. Meanwhile, 50 percent of white evangelical protestants favored bathroom bills, compared to 45 percent of nonwhite protestants.

The survey also found that about a fifth (or 21 percent) of Americans surveyed said they knew someone — a family member or a friend — who was transgender. That’s almost double the number who said the same thing six years ago.

In the past few years, transgender Americans have become increasingly visible members of society. Bathrooms have emerged as a key battlefield in the struggle for equal protection under the law for transgender people, as reflected in the vicious legal showdown between North Carolina and the Obama Administration last year.

Likewise, the Supreme Court (until earlier this week) had agreed to hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a Virginia high schooler, who became a champion for transgender rights in his fight against his School Board to use facilities in accordance with his gender identity. Justices remanded the case to a lower court after the Trump Administration mooted key Obama-era guidance on protections for transgender kids in federally funded schools.

The increased visibility has had its downsides, too. According to FBI hate crime data, violent anti-trans incidents tripled between 2013 and 2015, from 31 to 114 incidents (although law enforcement agencies had only just started specifically categorizing anti-trans incidents, so it’s possible that the data isn’t entirely reliable). After North Carolina signed its bathroom bill last March, Trans Lifeline, a suicide hotline for transgender Americans, reported that calls nearly doubled.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed agreed that transgender, gay, lesbian, and bisexual teenagers endure a disproportionate amount of bullying.


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