Happy Pride Month! We recently surveyed 3197 registered voters, including sizable samples of LGBTQ folks (n=427) and their allies (n=984). This memo outlines public reaction to the current LGBTQ policy landscape. We identify how closely American voters are following these issues, how they feel about corporate Pride celebrations, and support/opposition for both pro- and anti-LGBTQ policies.
We will also be hosting a webinar at 12pm EST/ 9am PST on June 28th, together with Change Research, discussing the politicization of education, especially as it pertains to gender and sexuality.
Americans Tuned In to the (Anti) LGBTQ Policy Landscape
In recent years, LGBTQ rights and backlash have risen to the forefront of the public policy sphere. Between efforts to ban books focused on LGBTQ experiences, debates over what is taught in the classroom and who can participate in children’s sports, and attempts to ban drag performances in public, anti-LGBT backlash has become a key driver in public discourse and the culture wars.
These issues are capturing voters’ attention. More than 2 in 3 registered voters have heard “a lot” or “a decent amount” about transgender kids in sports (82%), Critical Race Theory (79%), book banning (77%), gender-affirming care (73%), “Don’t Say Gay” and similar laws (71%), and violence against the LGBTQ community (67%). Awareness of the one positive piece of legislation for the LGBTQ community, the Respect for Marriage Act, which requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and federally recognizes these marriages, is considerably lower (46%).
However, the extent to which Americans have heard about these issues and policies varies considerably based on lived experience and attachment to the community. LGBTQ folks and allies are most likely to have heard “a lot” about “Don’t Say Gay,” violence against the LGBTQ community, and book banning. Gender-affirming care is also a top topic among those who are LGBTQ. Conversely, those who are not allied to the LGBTQ community (are not LGBTQ, do not have friends/family who are, and do not identify as an ally) are most likely to report hearing “a lot” about transgender kids in sports.
Americans Support Some LGBTQ Rights; Support for Trans Rights Lags
It has become almost cliche to remark how far and how quickly the American public has come on LGBTQ acceptance, but that’s only part of the story. The vast majority of Americans support protections for LGBTQ couples, including allowing same-sex couples the same parental rights over their children as opposite-sex couples (80%) and guaranteeing the right to get married in every state (76%). Nearly 6 in 10 voters oppose a ban on drag performances and cross-dressing in public spaces.
However, there is still work to be done to build understanding of and support for transgender Americans. A slim majority of Americans support banning trans athletes from participating in sports that match their gender identity. A plurality of voters oppose banning trans individuals from using bathrooms that match their gender identity, but it’s a very divisive issue.
Approximately half of voters think their legislators are spending too much time influencing what is taught in schools and on policies that impact transgender individuals.
Instead, voters want officials to focus more on improving K-12 education and making healthcare, housing and the overall cost of living more affordable.
Americans Skeptical of Corporate Pride Celebrations
Given the legislative and societal environments the LGBTQ community is currently facing, Pride and other types of civic activation feel as relevant as ever. Pride events are viewed as helping society become more accepting of LGBTQ people by approximately 2 in 3 LGBTQ folks and their allies. LGBTQ folks and allies view voting and advocacy through LGBTQ organizations as the most effective actions to create progress for the LGBTQ community, followed by protesting and volunteering or donating to a political campaign.
Using its Dynamic Online Sampling Engine to obtain a sample reflective of registered voters in the U.S., Embold Research polled 3,197 people nationwide from May 22-31, 2023. The margin of error is 2.0%. Post-stratification was performed on age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, region, and 2020 presidential vote. Weighting parameters were based on the voter file.
LGBTQ respondents (14% of the sample of registered voters) are defined as those who identified in the survey as bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender. Allies (20% of the sample) are those respondents who did not identify as any of these but said “I consider myself to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.” Non-allies (22% of the sample) are those who did not identify as bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender, do not have friends or family who are, and do not identify as an ally to the LGBTQ community. The remaining 44% of voters have friends or family who are LGBTQ but they did not indicate that they identify as an ally.