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As Culture Wars Rage, LGBTQ+ Support Is Going Down 'Across the Board,' According to a New Study

Rally for LGBTQ+ rights outside Supreme Court
Bob Korn / Shutterstock

OCT. 8, 2019: Rally for LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination protections outside Supreme Court.

In the age of polarization, conservative politicians pushing anti-LGBTQ+ laws have seemingly influenced a noticeable chunk of the public to stop supporting queer rights.

As anti-LGBTQ+ bills from politicians spike across the United States, support for gay and transgender people is also declining among the public.

While the majority of Americans still support marriage equality and anti-discrimination policies, support for LGBTQ+ rights has gone down "across the board" in the past few years, according to a recent report from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

While around 72 percent of the public supported marriage equality in August 2021, just 66 percent said they support it in 2023. The PRRI cites "partisan dynamics" as a factor behind the shift, which has largely influenced Republican voters.

For example, support for policies requiring transgender people to use bathrooms based on their sex at birth nearly doubled among GOP voters in just seven years. Bathroom bills were supported by just 44 percent of Republicans in 2016, compared to 80 percent in 2023. Support for such policies among Democrats consistently remained low, with 31 percent in both years.

However, the PRRI notes "trends in opinions have not been uniform across the United States." Opposition to policies like bathroom bans remains strong in traditionally blue states, whereas support for them has been increasing in red states. One trend that remained consistent across states is that fewer people responded with neutral stances such as "Don't Know."

The report states that "there is a very close relationship between opinions and policy," and while it is unclear if "policy change occurred before or after opinion change ... there are signals that the anti-LGBTQ turn is shifting norms."

And while younger generations are more likely to support LGBTQ+ people — particularly transgender people — previous PRRI analysis demonstrates that "partisanship can overcome generational divides."

"As partisan politicians began to clearly take opposing positions on transgender rights, so too have partisan members of the mass public," the report states.

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.