Poll: Americans oppose bathroom laws limiting transgender rights

The issue of transgender bathroom rights has become the latest flashpoint in the long US battle over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

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WASHINGTON – The majority of respondents to a new US poll opposed laws barring transgender people from using bathrooms consistent with their gender identities and indicated growing acceptance for gay rights, a nonpartisan research group said on Friday.

Fifty-three percent of the Americans surveyed oppose laws requiring transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth, according to the national poll by the Public Religion Research Institute.

The survey showed that 39% of respondents favoured such laws, and almost one in 10 of the 2,031 adults surveyed in February by telephone had no opinion.

The issue of transgender bathroom rights has become the latest flashpoint in the long US battle over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Significant partisan divisions remain, the survey found. While 65% of Democrats and 57% of independents oppose laws limiting transgender bathroom rights, 59% of Republicans support the laws, according to the poll. Thirty-six percent of Republicans oppose them.

"This is a case where it really is Republicans kind of pulling away and being more of an outlier to the rest of the country," said Robert P Jones, chief executive of the Washington-based group.

The poll results come as Republican leaders in Texas are among those considering whether to follow North Carolina in requiring people to use the bathrooms matching their gender at birth in public schools and government buildings.

The US Supreme Court this week sidestepped a major ruling on whether transgender students are entitled to bathroom choice under federal anti-discrimination law.

That decision followed Republican President Donald Trump's swift move to rescind a 2016 directive by former Democratic President Barack Obama's administration to open up bathroom access in US public schools.

Across the United States, acceptance is growing for same-sex marriage, found the poll, which had a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points. Support for same-sex marriage rose to 63% in the new survey, up from 52% in a 2013 poll.