Pamplin Media Group – Poll: Oregonians divided over Title IX laws for trans students

Oregon Values ​​& Beliefs Center survey shows research does little to influence public opinion on bathroom access or sports

As the nation marks the start of LGBTQ+ Pride Month and 50 years since the implementation of Title IX, a recent statewide poll shows most Oregonians say they support protection gay and transgender students. Yet they are split on whether trans students should be able to participate in school sports that match their gender identity.

Title IX is the federal law that prohibits discrimination in federally funded schools and programs and requires equal participation opportunities regardless of gender. Historically, Title IX has helped ensure that schools provide equal sports facilities and practice time for boys and girls. PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR -- Asked about a Title IX complaint filed in 2021, Gresham softball coach Jim Gardenhire said softball and baseball were woefully ignored by the school district.

According to an Oregon Values ​​& Beliefs Center survey conducted in May, 64% of respondents agree with the latest interpretation of federal law, which extends protections to transgender students, but significantly fewer agree. with the full scope of the law.

Polling data shows that 41% of 1,674 participants said trans students should be allowed to play on sports teams that match their gender identity, but 39% said they should only be allowed to play. in teams that match their sex at birth. Another 21% said they had no opinion or didn’t know.

The OVBC noted that a plurality of women support the gender affirmation policy, while men were primarily the group that said trans students should compete based on their birth sex.

Trans issues follow political lines, with 62% of Democrats supporting trans students being allowed to play on sports teams that match their gender identity and 74% of Republicans supporting restrictions on trans students playing on teams that match their gender of birth.

The nonprofit public opinion research group also noted that those more familiar with Title IX tended to support allowing trans students to compete based on their gender identity. The OVBC notes that the high percentage of uncertain responses suggests this is an “emerging problem and opinions are still shaped by the media and opinion leaders.”

Last year, in response to several states attempting to enact legislation effectively banning transgender women from participating in women’s sports, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance on federal law, noting a court ruling Supreme Court of the United States in 2020 in Bostock v. the basis for its interpretation.

In a federal memo, the administration noted that the Civil Rights Office “has long recognized that Title IX protects all students — including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students — from harassment and other forms of gender discrimination. OCR has also long recognized that Title IX prohibits harassment and other forms of discrimination against all students who do not conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity,” indicates the memo.

Neither the federal guidelines, nor the research that shows transgender and non-binary students are less at risk for mental health issues and suicidal thoughts when schools affirm their gender identity, seem to sway public opinion much.

When asked if knowing that studies link the treatment of trans youth in schools to mental health and suicidality, 85% of respondents said they felt the same, that trans students should only be allowed to play on sports teams that match their sex at birth. Another 13% said they were less certain of their opinion after seeing the research and another 2% said they had changed their mind.

Similarly, 50% of respondents said transgender students should be able to use restrooms that match their current gender identity; 30% disagreed and 20% skipped the question or had no opinion.

When told that studies show that preventing trans students from accessing restrooms that match their gender identity is associated with harmful mental health indicators, including suicide, 88% of the 504 people who respondents said they had not changed their minds. Another 10% felt less sure about restricting toilet access and 2% said they had changed their minds.

Oregon Center for Values ​​and Beliefs Methodology

The survey was conducted online among Oregonians 18 and older from professionally run online panels. The polling group said its surveys fall within the statistically valid margin of error.

The nonprofit constitutes a broad research panel of Oregonians to ensure that all voices are represented in public policy discussions in a valid and statistically reliable way.

Selected panelists earn points for their participation, which can be redeemed for cash or donated to charity. To learn more, click here.

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