Large Majorities, Including Republicans, Oppose Discrimination Against LGBTQ People by Employers and Health Care Providers

Half say society hasn’t gone far enough in accepting transgender people.

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Large majorities of Americans think it should be illegal for either employers or health care providers to discriminate against people because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual, or transgender, a new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll finds. This includes large majorities of Republicans, independents and Democrats across a range of questions about such discrimination.

The poll gauges the public’s views following two major developments this month that move in opposite directions on LGBTQ protections. First, the Trump administration finalized regulations removing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity (including transgender status) in health care, arguing that the definition of sex does not extend to either. Then last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gender identity and sexual orientation are protected under the definition of sex discrimination in the workplace.

The poll finds:

  • 9 in 10 in ten adults agree with last week’s Supreme Court ruling, say it should be illegal for employers to fire or refuse to hire people because they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual (90%) or transgender (89%).
  • About 9 in 10 say it should be illegal for doctors or other health care providers to refuse to treat people because they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual (89%) or transgender (88%).
  • 85% say it should be illegal for health insurance companies to refuse to pay for health care services for people who are transgender.

In each case, large majorities across partisan lines, including more than 7 in 10 Republicans, think such discrimination against LGBTQ people should be illegal.

Overall, nearly 7 in 10 adults say they support laws that ban discrimination based on whether a person is lesbian, gay, or bisexual (69%) or transgender (68%). This is similar to the share who support laws that ban discrimination based on race or ethnicity (71%) and only slightly smaller than the share who support laws banning discrimination against people with a disability (76%).

“Most Americans – including most Republicans — oppose discrimination against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” KFF President and CEO Drew Altman said. “The public is shifting more quickly on these issues than the political and legal landscapes are.”

Other findings include:

  • Most adults say that people who are transgender (79%) or are lesbian, gay or bisexual (74%) face at least some discrimination in the U.S. today. This is similar to the share who say the same about Black (84%) and Hispanic (77%) people. While still a majority, a smaller share of Republicans say each of these groups face at least some discrimination.
  • Half (49%) of the public says our society has “not gone far enough in accepting people who are transgender,” up 10 percentage points from a 2017 Pew Research Center Poll. In comparison, relatively few (15%) today say our society has “gone too far” in accepting people who are transgender, and a third (32%) say it “has been about right.” A similar share of Republicans say society has gone too far (30%) as say it has not gone far enough (24%).
  • More than a third of adults (36%) say they personally know someone who is transgender, including nearly half (46%) of those under age 30.

Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at KFF, the poll was conducted June 16-21 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,001 adults using the SSRS Omnibus Poll. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (263) and cell phone (738). The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for the full sample. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.

KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) is a non-profit organization focusing on national health issues, as well as the U.S. role in global health policy. KFF develops and runs its own policy analysis, journalism and communications programs, sometimes in partnership with major news organizations.

KFF serves as a non-partisan source of facts, analysis and journalism for policymakers, the media, the health policy community and the public. Our product is information, always provided free of charge — from the most sophisticated policy research, to basic facts and numbers, to in-depth health policy news coverage provided by our news service, KHN, to information young people can use to improve their health or the general public can use to understand health insurance.

Census 2020