2:39 p.m., Nov. 24, 2015--From domestic politics and the Syrian
refugee crisis to terrorism and the Islamic State, there will be more
than enough political fodder to go around the dinner table this year.
And a new study from the University of Delaware’s Center for
Political Communication suggests a generational blowup over transgender
rights could be on the menu this holiday season.
In the study,
a large majority of people surveyed said they favor protection
from discrimination for transgender individuals both in schools (71
percent) and in workplaces (70 percent), and a large majority also
supports allowing transgender people to serve openly in the
U.S. military (62 percent).
The UD survey reveals the public is more divided on requiring public
buildings, such as courthouses, to have gender neutral restrooms. Only a
slim majority of Americans favor this, by a margin of 51 percent to 43
The split on this issue has played out across the nation in recent
weeks. Last week, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was repealed
thanks in large part to a campaign by a Christian advocacy group that
focused on the threat of “men in women’s bathrooms.” And, in
Wisconsin, Republicans pushed to prohibit transgender public
school students from using a bathroom or locker room assigned to the
gender with which they identified.
Looking more closely at the results, Paul Brewer, director of the
Center for Political Communication, said clear divisions on these issues
emerge based on age, gender and political party.
“Compared to Republicans, Democrats are more favorable toward
transgender rights – a divide that the 2016 political campaign could
highlight,” Brewer said.
The sharpest political divisions emerged on the issues of
requiring gender neutral restrooms and transgender people serving in the
military. Nearly three out of four Democrats surveyed (74 percent) said
transgender people should be able to serve in the military, while only
43 percent of Republicans supported that idea. Meanwhile, Democrats
backed the idea of requiring gender-neutral bathrooms in public places
by a two-to-one margin over Republicans (66 percent - 34 percent).
The CPC study also revealed a generation gap on transgender rights.
Respondents between the ages of 18-34 overwhelmingly support transgender
protection in schools (83 percent), protection against job
discrimination (77 percent) and a right to serve in the military (72
percent), and a clear majority of young people (59 percent)
said gender-neutral restrooms should be required.
People 55 and older showed far less support for transgender rights
and protections, although a majority of older respondents did favor
protecting transgender students (60 percent) and workers (56 percent).
Among older Americans, the issue of gender neutral public bathrooms
might be a topic to avoid at the holiday dinner table. Only 43 percent
of respondents over 55 favor requiring gender-neutral restrooms.
Women, more than men, support transgender protections and rights,
according to the study. Four of the 901 respondents self-identified as
The telephone survey of 901 U.S. adults was conducted by the
University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication from Nov.
11-17, 2015. CPC Director Paul Brewer supervised the study.
About the study
The National Agenda Opinion Project research was funded by the
University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication (CPC) and
the William P. Frank Foundation. The study was supervised by the CPC’s
director, Paul Brewer, a professor in the Departments of Communication
and Political Science and International Relations.
Results are based on telephone interviews with a representative
sample of 901 adult U.S. residents. Telephone interviews were conducted
via landline (n=344) and cell phone (n=557). The survey was conducted
under supervision of the Center for Political Communication by Princeton
Survey Research Associates International, and the interviews were
administered in English by Princeton Data Source. The data
were collected from Nov. 11-17, 2015. Statistical results are weighted
to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling
error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3 percentage points.
Readers should be aware that in addition to sampling error, question
wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce
error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
Please contact Paul Brewer at 302-831-7771 for more details about the survey’s methodology.