North Carolinians aren’t the only ones deeply divided over which bathroom transgender persons should use. Americans overall are, too.
New poll results released Wednesday by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found that a slight majority of Americans – 51 percent – say transgender persons should be allowed to use the public restroom corresponding to their gender identity.
Nearly as many Americans – 46 percent – say they should be required to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate.
The issue has become part of the national political debate this year because of what’s been happening in North Carolina. The Republican-controlled state legislature passed House Bill 2 to nullify an ordinance approved by the Democratic-controlled Charlotte City Council. It would have extended nondiscrimination protections to the LGBT community and allowed transgender persons to use the bathroom based on their gender identity.
Reaction against HB has been fierce: The U.S. Justice Department sued the state; PayPal scotched a 400-job expansion planned for Charlotte; the NBA removed its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte; Bruce Springsteen and other performers canceled N.C. concerts; and the NCAA and ACC announced they were moving post-season football and basketball games from the state.
HB2 has also become a hot issue in the 2016 races for N.C. governor and U.S. senator as well as for president.
Pew found that big differences on the transgender bathroom issue between some religious groups, between political parties, between men and women and between young people and those who are older:
▪ White evangelical Protestants by a large margin (69 percent to 27 percent) and Catholics by a narrow one (50 percent to 47 percent) say the gender on their birth certificate, not the one with which they identify, should dictate which bathroom transgender persons use.
▪ Religious groups that say transgender persons should be able to use the bathroom of their gender identity include white mainline Protestants (51 percent to 46 percent), Jews (73 percent to 24 percent) and the so-called “nones,” or those with no religious affiliation (70 percent to 28 percent).
▪ Black Protestants are evenly divided, with 47 percent saying gender identity and 47 percent saying gender on the birth certificate should be the determining factor.
▪ Nearly seven-in-10 Democrats favor allowing transgender persons to use bathrooms conforming to their gender identity. And nearly seven-in-10 Republicans say transgender persons should be required to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate.
▪ Most women – 55 percent to 40 percent – say gender identity should dictate bathroom use by transgender people. Most men – 52 percent to 45 percent – say it should be the gender on their birth certificate.
▪ Attitudes regarding bathroom use by transgender people also differ by age. Two-thirds of those ages 18-to-29 say transgender people should be allowed to use public restrooms that match their gender identity. Americans over 30 are much more divided, with those 30-49 years old split down the middle (49 percent to 49 percent). A majority, or 52 percent, of those 50-64 years old say transgender persons should be required to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate, And a plurality of those over 65 years old – 48 percent to 45 percent – favor abiding by the birth certificate.
The survey of more than 4,500 U.S. adults, also asked about other religion-related issues that closely divide Americans.
Pew found that 49 percent of Americans believe that businesses providing wedding services, such as catering or flowers, should be required to provide them to same-sex couples just as they would to all other couples. But nearly as many Americans, 48 percent, say businesses should be able to refuse services to same-sex couples if the business owner has religious objections to homosexuality.
But Pew found “a clear consensus” on the question of whether businesses with religious objections to contraception should be required to provide birth control coverage to employees. Two-thirds of those surveyed, 67 percent, said yes, they should be required to do so. Only 30 percent disagreed.
The opposition to such a requirement came mostly from white evangelicals, who say, by a margin of 53 percent to 44 percent, that businesses should be able to refuse to provide contraception coverage. But other religious groups said there should be a requirement, including Catholics (65 percent to 32 percent), whose church officially forbids artificial birth control.