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Most School Parents Oppose Transgender Bathroom Policy

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Americans appear more receptive to letting transgender people use the bathrooms they prefer, but most adults with school-age children still are opposed.

The federal government has ordered all public schools in America to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, and 33% of American Adults support this decision. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 51% oppose allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms of the opposite biological sex. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This compares with 64% who were opposed last November to a U.S. Education Department directive allowing transgender people to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex. Just 21% were in favor, while 16% were undecided.

Among Americans with elementary and secondary school age children, those most directly impacted by the Obama administration’s latest order, 55% are opposed. Thirty-two percent (32%) favor allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms of the opposite biological sex, while 13% are not sure.

However, where students go to the bathroom is really not the business of the federal government, Americans say. Consistent with past surveying on other education issues, just 24% believe the federal government should be responsible for setting bathroom policies in elementary and secondary schools. Just as many (25%) say that’s the responsibility of state government, while another 41% think local government should decide what school bathroom policies are.

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The national telephone survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted by Rasmussen Reports on May 15-16, 2016. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Fieldwork for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

A legal battle is escalating between the U.S. Justice Department and North Carolina over the state’s bill that would ban individuals from using public restrooms that do not correspond to their biological gender. The Justice Department has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the state claiming the new law discriminates against transgender individuals, but North Carolina officials, arguing that their bill is a common-sense safety measure, have countered with a suit arguing the federal government is exceeding its authority. What do Americans think?

Women are more supportive than men are of allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms of the opposite biological sex. But married adults (25%) are less supportive of the policy than unmarrieds (34%) are.

The older the adult, the more likely he or she is to oppose the administration’s new open bathroom directive.

Fifty percent (50%) of Democrats favor allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms of the gender they identify with. Just 13% of Republicans and 30% of adults not affiliated with either of the major political parties agree.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of voters who favor the new policy believe the federal government should be responsible for setting school bathroom policies. Among those opposed to the transgender policy, 56% say that should be a responsibility of local government instead.

In a survey two years ago, 49% of Americans said discrimination against transgender people is a serious problem; 42% disagreed. But it also was not an issue Americans were paying much attention to: Just 44% were following news reports about transgender rights laws at least somewhat closely, with 18% who were following Very Closely.

When it comes to social issues such as abortion, public prayer and church-state topics, 32% of likely U.S. voters say they are liberal, compared to only slightly more (35%) who regard themselves as socially conservative. Thirty percent (30%) feel they are moderates on these issues.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only. 

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