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Fresh Poll Numbers as the LGBT Debate Heats Up in the State House

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Joseph Losco and Sean Hildebrand
Bowen Center for Public Affairs

While about half of all Hoosiers support amending Indiana’s Civil Rights Act to include protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgendered (LGBT) individuals, there is broad support for providing such individuals with specific protections in housing and employment (69.3%) public accommodations (69.8%), and securing public services (72.2%).   These are some of the findings in a December, 2015 survey the Bowen Center conducted for the Indianapolis Star. A random sample of 600 adults living in Indiana was contacted for the survey by Princeton Survey Research Associates.  The margin of error for survey results is +/- 5.2 percentage points.

Support for the amendment to Indiana’s civil rights law is strongest amongst females, Democrats, those with higher educational attainment, younger Hoosiers, non-African American minorities, residents in southern counties, and respondents who do not frequently attend religious services.

Groups with Highest Support for LGBT Civil Rights Amendment

However, when asked about support for providing specific protections for LGBT individuals including non-discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and public services, support was widespread.

Do you support Legal protection against discrimination in housing and employment


Do you support legal protection against discrimination when shopping or receiving services from resteraunts, hotels, and other public areas


Do you support equal treatment in receiving public services

Respondents were also asked whether they would support an amendment if small businesses and religious organizations were exempt from providing LGBT protections. A plurality (41.7%) said such exemptions would not make any difference to them, while 24% said it would make them more likely to support such a measure, and 24.7% said they would less likely to support a bill that included these exemptions.

The survey also asked about specific measures to protect the rights of LGBT citizens, such as protection against discrimination in housing, employment, shopping/receipt of services, and equal treatment in the receipt of public services.  In all instances a significant majority of respondents favored legal protection for LGBT individuals.

A related issue that has been the subject of national debate is the use of bathroom facilities by those who self-identify as the opposite gender from which they were born. A plurality of respondents (44.9%) felt that individuals should use the public rest room facilities of the gender in which they were born. 33.4% said individuals should be able to use the public rest room facilities of their preferred gender. These results show a lower degree of opposition when compared to a national CBS News poll conducted in the summer of 2014 which showed 59% of respondents favored transgender school students using the bathroom facilities of their birth gender, rather than the gender which they self-identify.

Additionally, a majority of respondents (53.6%) either strongly or somewhat prefer the notion that businesses and government buildings in the state should provide gender-neutral rest room facilities. Democrats and females overwhelmingly support such actions, while Republican respondents were split on the issue, with 44.3% in favor and 47.3% opposed.

Click here for full results including toplines and a methodology report.