Most California Voters Support Gender-Neutral School Bathrooms

Most California Voters Support Gender-Neutral School Bathrooms
File photo by Morag Riddell/Flickr

As 11 states, mostly in the South and Southwest, challenge the Obama administration's directive to let public school kids use the restrooms of their choice, California is looking like an island of tolerance and sanity.

In 2014 the state's first-of-its-kind law allowing transgender public school students to use the bathrooms of their choice, and to participate in the sports teams of their choice, took effect.

The year before that, California voters were not in favor of the legislation. Forty-six percent of them, in fact, said no to transgender bathroom and sports team choice, according to the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll. Forty-three percent were in favor.

Fast-forward three years and support for gender-neutral bathrooms on taxpayer-supported campuses has increased a whopping 14 percentage points, the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll found.

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If voters were asked to approve such a law, they would — barely.

The poll found that 51 percent support it while 40 percent oppose it. More than 75 percent of the Golden State's registered voters recognize that transgender people face discrimination, the poll found.

If you've attended college, you're more likely to support gender-neutral bathrooms. The poll found that 58 percent of respondents who have at least attended some higher education classes were in favor of California's groundbreaking law.

Fifty percent of those who didn't finish high school or who received a diploma but went no further expressed support, according to the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll findings.

Sixty-one percent of registered voters 49 and younger supported the gender-neutral law; 46 percent of those 50 and older expressed support, the poll found.

"The shift of public opinion on this issue has happened with extraordinary speed," says Dan Schnur, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. "It normally takes many years for attitudes on cultural matters such as this to change. But similar to the rapid movement that has occurred in recent years on the question of same-sex marriage, Californians have re-examined their beliefs on issues relating to the transgender community over an extremely short period of time."


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