A new poll by Rasmussen shows that most adults, and most parents of school-aged children, oppose president President Barack Obama’s transgender-boosting K-12 bathroom and locker room policy.
In the telephone poll of 1,000 adults, announced May 17, 51 percent of all adult respondents rejected Obama’s policy decree while only 33 percent were accepting of the plan, and 16 percent were undecided.
The Rasmussen poll shows even stronger opposition among parents of some of the 55 million K-12 kids in 100,000 schools that must open their single-sex bathrooms and locker rooms to youths who merely claim to feel like members of the other sex.
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.
This poll helps show how transgender people get high public sympathy in polls that ask generic questions — and also get lopsided strong opposition on specific issues, such as the entry of transgender people into opposite-sex bathrooms.
For example, Rasmussen has found strong support for policies that would help transgenders. A 2014 poll showed
that 46% of American Adults favor a law that bans discrimination based on gender identity when it comes to employment, housing and public accommodations in their state. Thirty-four percent (34%) oppose such a law, but another 21% are undecided.
The specific-to-general trend is highlighted by a 2015 poll taken from April 2015 to January 2016 year by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) finds a large number of Americans are in favor of LGBT non discrimination laws. In fact, 71 percent said they favor laws that “would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing.”
The PRRI did not ask about bathrooms, children, K-12 schools, locker rooms or any of the hot-button issues that are being forced to the surface by Obama’s support for the claim that a person’s feeling of “gender identity” deserves the same legal protection in included in sex-discrimination laws.
A CNN poll released last week found very different results when the questions put before respondents were a bit more specific.
The CNN poll asked respondents if they favor generic “laws that guarantee equal protection for transgender people,” and 75 percent said they favored such laws.
However, when the question was changed to the specific issue of allowing transgender individuals to use facilities that correspond to their biological sex rather than their feeling of “gender identity,” the results were far more mixed. Faced with the specific, only 57 percent — not 75 percent — opposed a law that would require transgender people to use a bathroom that corresponds to their birth sex.
In fact, CNN’s poll showed that 40 percent supported the bathroom law – which means that at least 15 percent of CNN’s respondents said they support “guarantee[d] equal protection” in principle, but oppose it when normal people’s sexual-privacy is threatened by allowing people who claim to be transgender into former single-sex bathrooms.
Other factors have a huge impact on poll results.
One problem with the Rasmussen statement on the May 17 poll is that it does not reveal information about the strength of respondents’ opinions. That’s important because politicians react to people with strong opinions about an issue, and they ignore people with weak opinions.
A poll in North Carolina did reveal, however that people with strong views on the subject were lopsidedly against transgenders using the wrong single-sex bathrooms. In early April, SurveyUSA did a poll for WRAL-TV in Raleigh, which asked this question;
House Bill 2 states that people must use the restroom matching the gender listed on their birth certificate and not the gender with which they identify. This can be an issue for transgender individuals. How do you feel about the new law requiring people to follow their birth certificate in using a restroom? Do you strongly agree? Somewhat agree? Neither agree nor disagree? Somewhat disagree? Or strongly disagree?
The poll question is somewhat tilted because it does not tell respondents that transgender people can change their birth-certificates after they undergo surgery, but the result showed that 56 percent of people agreed with the law and 34 percent disagreed.
More importantly, the poll showed that 46 percent of people strongly agreed, while only 25 percent strongly disagreed. That’s almost 2:1 strong support for the North Carolina law.
Also, questions that indirectly seek answers also reveal the sincerity and depth of people’s stated support for a policy. For example, the May 17 Rasmussen poll showed that many of the people who told Rasmussen that they agreed with Obama’s policy also used the idea of federalism to indirectly oppose his one-size-fits-all-K-12-bathrooms policy.
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 … [Only] Fifty-one percent (51%) of voters who favor the new [Obama] policy believe the federal government should be responsible for setting school bathroom policies.
The federalism answer suggests that far less than 33 percent of the pro-Obama respondents in the Rasmussen poll privately and strongly agreed with Obama’s plan.
Timing can also impact the poll results. For example, a Reuters five-day rolling poll found on May 3 a close split on the transgender bathroom question, with the larger number coming down against the progressives’ plan of allowing men who imagine themselves to be women to use a woman’s restroom.
On May 3, the rolling poll of 557 respondents found 42.1 percent agreeing that “People should use public restrooms according to their biological sex” while 40.8 percent said people should use bathrooms matching “the gender with which they identify.” A further 17 percent did not have an opinion.
But Reuters ended the poll at a point where support for Obama’s position was at an unusual high. Over the five-week period when the rolling poll was being conducted, 44.3 percent said biological sex should guide the decision while 39.8 percent say the sex that people “identify with” should be taken into account. The poll did not reveal the strength of people’s opinions.
Clearly the results can differ wildly depending on how the questions are posed.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org