New Survey Reveals 80% of U.S. Catholics Support LGBTQ+ Non-Discrimination

New survey results indicate Catholics overwhelmingly support non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people. The statistics for Catholics around issues of gender identity, however, were not as strong.

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) issued a report from its 2022 American Values Survey, which includes a section on how people in the U.S. feel about LGBTQ+ issues. Most notably, the survey found that 80% of Catholics believe non-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity are needed when it comes to matters like housing, employment, and public accommodations.

This 80% support was consistent across both white and Hispanic Catholics, and is four points higher than respondents overall. Catholics were the most supportive of any Christian denomination, second among believers only to “members of non-Christian religions,” which polled at 85% support.

However, when the survey dives into gender identity issues, Catholics’ support for transgender and nonbinary people dropped significantly. For instance, asked whether there are only male or female genders, 70% of white Catholics and 51% of Hispanic Catholics said yes. These numbers were lower than other Christian denominations, which ranged from 74% to 87%. PRRI noted that there is little overall shift on this question in the past year.

When it comes to restroom use, 53% of white Catholics and 51% of Hispanic Catholics believe trans people should be required to use public accommodations according to their sex assigned at birth rather than gender, a practice many trans people and their supporters consider discriminatory. These numbers, which are lower than other Christian groups and about the same as non-Christian people of faith, are roughly on par with people in the U.S. generally, 52% of whom support restricting restroom access.

Asked about medical care for trans youth, 43% of white and Hispanic Catholics said that parents should be legally barred from helping their children receive gender transition care. 44% of the overall respondents endorsed such bans. This number was slightly lower than other Christian denominations, while higher than non-Christian people of faith and the religiously unaffiliated.

Two aspects of the report go into greater depth on LGBTQ+ topics by breaking down the data in terms of political affiliation, age, race, and education level, which are worth noting beyond the Catholic-specific information. First, anti-transgender views decrease as respondents get younger. Second, support for non-discrimination protections increases for people who know an LGBTQ+ person.

The PRRI survey indicates that the trend of U.S. Catholics’ overall support for LGBTQ+ equality continues to grow. However, the statistic of 80% support for non-discrimination protections can cover the fact that Catholic respondents’ answers on more specific issues, like public accommodations for trans people or gender-affirming medical care, indicate more work is needed. That some 70% of Catholics believe in a male/female sex binary can significantly hinder trans equality not only in public policy, but for building inclusion in the church. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of Catholics in the U.S. seem to understand that social justice, not sexual or gender ethics, should be the guiding lens through which the faithful should approach LGBTQ+ issues. That is grounds to build on in 2023.

Earlier this year, New Ways Ministry published a new book, A Home for Allabout why Catholics can and should support LGBTQ+ non-discrimination. That book, which you can find more information about here, has now been developed into a workshop available for parishes, schools, and other Catholic groups. To learn more about the workshop and inquire about hosting it in your community, either in-person or virtually, click here.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, December 

1 reply
  1. Dean P
    Dean P says:

    No Catholic should support discrimination of any type. Expecting a Catholic to promote sexual ideology is another thing entirely.


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