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Poll: Americans Support LGBT Rights, Divided on “Bathroom Bills”



While state legislatures across the country are taking up bills that aim to reverse or weaken recent advances for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, a recent poll indicates that a majority of Americans oppose measures that erode civil rights for LGBT people. The poll also indicated Americans were divided on so-called “bathroom bills” that restrict access to bathrooms for transgender Americans.

In the Harris Poll, conducted January 9-11, 2017, two-thirds, or 66 percent or respondents opposed laws that “allow businesses to refuse service to persons because of religious objections”. This was down slightly from a May 2016 Harris Poll where 68 percent opposed such laws. When asked about “state laws that repeal, or overturn, local/city LGBT anti-discrimination laws and ban cities from passing similar laws in the future”, 62 percent of respondents opposed such measures. This was up slightly from the 60 percent in the May 2016 Harris Poll.

Americans appear more divide as ever though when it comes to the so-called “Bathroom Bills” restrict access to bathrooms for transgender Americans. Support for the “laws that require individuals to use the bathroom that corresponds to their sex at birth” was 54 percent of respondents in the poll. This was an increase from the 49 percent support such legislation had in the May 2016 Harris Poll.

However, 63 percent of respondents agreed that “all public buildings should be required to offer a single-user or gender-nonspecific bathroom” while slightly more respondents favor the federal government deciding bathroom access over state governments — 39 percent to 36 percent — with 22 percent not sure.

Effective Responses

When Americans are asked how effective various tactics might be in overturning or preventing passage of these kinds of laws that restrict LGBT rights, several options are believed to be very or somewhat effective:

[gdlr_skill_bar percent=”59″ size=”small” text_color=”#333333″ background_color=”#e9e9e9″ progress_color=”#961D20″]Federal law suits against states for civil rights violations[/gdlr_skill_bar]

[gdlr_skill_bar percent=”56″ size=”small” text_color=”#333333″ background_color=”#e9e9e9″ progress_color=”#F16524″]Corporate decisions to move HQ/offices out of state[/gdlr_skill_bar]

[gdlr_skill_bar percent=”55″ size=”small” text_color=”#333333″ background_color=”#e9e9e9″ progress_color=”#FDC016″]Sport associations that ban states with these laws from hosting major games[/gdlr_skill_bar]

[gdlr_skill_bar percent=”50″ size=”small” text_color=”#333333″ background_color=”#e9e9e9″ progress_color=”#6D9D40″]Film/television productions pull projects out of states with these laws[/gdlr_skill_bar]

[gdlr_skill_bar percent=”47″ size=”small” text_color=”#333333″ background_color=”#e9e9e9″ progress_color=”#0856A4″]Entertainers who cancel their performances[/gdlr_skill_bar]

[gdlr_skill_bar percent=”41″ size=”small” text_color=”#333333″ background_color=”#e9e9e9″ progress_color=”#2c368f”]States that ban their employees from non-essential travel to discriminatory states[/gdlr_skill_bar]

[gdlr_skill_bar percent=”32″ size=”small” text_color=”#333333″ background_color=”#e9e9e9″ progress_color=”#000000″]Social media hashtags with messages such as #NoHateInMyState or #WeAreNotThis[/gdlr_skill_bar]

“In state after state, we see echoes of a national struggle that roiled North Carolina last year,” said Bob Witeck, business strategist and President of Witeck Communications. “Facing similar issues this year, Texas business leaders now estimate a loss of $8.5 billion in GDP as well as 185,000 jobs lost if discriminatory legislation is enacted. These findings make clear that Americans are especially mindful of the economic and social consequences of these decisions.”

Chase is the founder and Creative Director of, former host and Executive Producer of OutCast Austin, an award-winning LGBT weekly radio program on KOOP 91.7 FM in Austin. In 2011, he was named the Critics Pick for 'Most Gaybiquitous' in the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin. In 2012, CultureMap Austin named him one of Austin's Top LGBT bloggers and he received the AGLCC's Chamber Award for Social Media Diva.

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january 2022