May 18 (UPI) — Americans remain evenly split on whether the nation needs new laws to protect LGBT individuals from discrimination and on the question of public bathroom policies for transgender people, a new poll shows.
Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll found about half of Americans, 51 percent, said there should be new civil rights laws passed to specifically outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity while 46 percent said those laws are not necessary.
On the question of transgender rights, Americans were also split. A plurality of Americans, 48 percent, said transgender people should be required to use the public restroom corresponding with their gender at birth, while 46 percent said they should be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
The issue came to prominence after North Carolina passed H.B. 2, known as the bathroom bill, which forced transgender individuals to use the bathroom corresponding with their birth certificate. The legislation sparked a national debate, as well as protests and a number of corporate boycotts in North Carolina.
After the NCAA threatened not to host any of its postseason basketball games in the state, the legislature and newly elected Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat who campaigned against the bill, repealed the legislation.
Gallup noted polling on the transgender question remains difficult because many Americans are not familiar with the specifics of the policy debate or the meaning of the term “gender identity.”
Gallup’s survey was conducted May 3 to 7. It polled 1,011 adults and carries a margin of error of 4 percentage points.