On Use of Public Washrooms for Transgender Individuals,
Most Canadians Either Support Transgender Choice (30%) or Are Indifferent (34%); Few (15%) Say Transgender Individuals Should Be Required to use Washroom of Gender Assigned at Birth

Canadian LGBTQ Community Feels Less Safe, More Discriminated Against than Most Canadians

Toronto, ON - As the transgender bathroom debate continues to play out in the media as a result of a proposed North Carolina law that would limit transgender access to bathrooms, three in ten Canadians (30%) say that people should be permitted to use the washroom of the gender they identify as, while another 34% are indifferent on the issue, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted for Yahoo. Only 15% say that people should be required to use the washroom of the gender they were assigned at birth (the desired goal of the North Carolina bill), while 16% say there should be a third category of washroom specifically for people who identify as transgender, and 5% prefer some other option.

Opinions are similar when it comes to the use of public changing facilities such as locker rooms. One in four Canadians (26%) say people should be permitted to use the facility of the gender they identify as; 15% say they should be required to use the facility of the gender they were assigned at birth; two in ten (19%) say there should be a third category of change room for transgender people; and 6% prefer some other option. Once again, one in three (34%) Canadians say they don't care one way or the other. In other words, opinions are roughly the same in Canada regardless of whether the debate is about public washrooms or public change rooms.

LGBTQ Issues Personally Important to Half (55%) of Canadians

In Canada, fewer Canadians feel personally connected to LGBTQ issues compared to other social issues. Asked to rate the importance of a range of issues to them, LGBTQ issues came last among a list of six social issues. Nearly nine in ten (87%) Canadians say elderly issues are personally important to them (44% very/44% somewhat). Next most personally important are mental disability issues at 84% (40% very/44% somewhat), followed by physical disability issues at 82% (38% very/44% somewhat), racial equity at 80% (40% very/39% somewhat), gender equity at 80% (43% very/37% somewhat) and lastly, LGBTQ issues, which lag behind at 55% (23% very/33% somewhat). By comparison, LGBTQ issues are seen as important (56% very/22% somewhat) by 78% of the LGBTQ community.

Women (61%) are significantly more likely to find LGBTQ issues important to them (27% very/35% somewhat) than men (49%; 19% very/30% somewhat). Younger Canadians, aged 18-34 (68%), are the most likely to say that LGBTQ issues are important to them (32% very/35% somewhat), compared to those aged 35-54 (53%; 22% very/31% somewhat) and those 55 and over (48%; 17% very/32% somewhat). At a regional level, LGBTQ issues are seen as most important in Quebec (63%; 23% very/39% somewhat), followed by BC (57%; 25% very/32% somewhat), Alberta (55%; 25% very/30% somewhat) and Atlantic Canada (55%; 21% very/34% somewhat), and least important in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (47%; 18% very/29% somewhat).

LGBTQ Canadians Feel Less Safe, Supported in their Local Communities

Two issues facing Canadians in the LGBTQ community are safety and support in the communities they call home. In both instances, LGBTQ Canadians are significantly less at ease than those who do identify as straight:

  • Nine in ten (95%) Canadians who identify as straight say they feel safe in their local community (50% very/46% somewhat), compared to 89% (42% very/47% somewhat) of Canadians who identify as LGBTQ.
  • Eight in ten (80%) Canadians who identify as straight say they feel supported by their local community (28% very/52% somewhat), compared to 70% (25% very/44% somewhat) of LGBTQ Canadians.

The differences in perceptions of safety and support are even more pronounced when examined by gender identity. Twenty-five Canadians who self-identify as transgender participated in the Ipsos poll - a small grouping, but one that provides for some descriptive results. While 95% of cisgender Canadians (who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth) say they feel safe in their local community (49% very/46% somewhat), only seven in ten (72%) transgender Canadians feel the same (33% very/38% somewhat). Transgender Canadians are also less likely to feel they have the support of their local community: six in ten (63%) transgender Canadians feel supported by their community (26% very/38% somewhat), compared to eight in ten (79%) cisgender Canadians (27% very/52% somewhat). Again, while not statistically significant, these directional results among the transgender community suggest that there could be different experiences among these Canadians.

Discrimination a Reality for LGBTQ Canadians...

The poll also asked Canadians the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with a variety of statements related to sexual orientation, gender identity and LGBTQ issues in Canada. On the topic of discrimination, Canadians in the LGBTQ community have plenty to report. One in three (35%) LGBTQ Canadians agree (7% strongly/28% somewhat) with the statement `I often face discrimination based on my gender,' compared to 17% of straight Canadians (3% strongly/14% somewhat). Women (23%) are also significantly more likely to agree (4% strongly/19% somewhat) they often face gender-based discrimination than men (14%; 3% strongly/12% somewhat).

At three in ten (28%), LGBTQ Canadians are also more likely to agree (5% strongly/23% somewhat) with the statement `I often face discrimination based on my sexual orientation,' compared to just 8% (2% strongly/6% somewhat) of those who identify as straight.

Self-reported discrimination is highest of all among members of the transgender community. Four in ten (44%) transgender Canadians agree (8% strongly/36% somewhat) with the statement `I often face discrimination based on my gender identity.' While these results are not conclusive and don't necessarily reflect the views of the overall transgender population in Canada, given the small sample size of transgender respondents in the poll, they offer a glimpse into the reality for some transgender Canadians.

There is also some evidence of a regional divide, with Canadians west of the St-Lawrence more likely to say they experience gender-based discrimination. One in four Canadians (25%) living in Saskatchewan and Manitoba agree (6% strongly/18% somewhat) they often face this type of discrimination, followed by 22% in BC (3% strongly/19% somewhat), 21% in Alberta (3% strongly/18% somewhat) and 21% in Ontario (4% strongly/17% somewhat). By contrast, just 13% of those in Quebec (3% strongly/11% somewhat) and 13% of Canadians living in the Atlantic provinces (0% strongly/13% somewhat) say the same.

Canada Seen by Many as a World Leader on LGBTQ Issues, But Community Says Not Enough Attention Being Paid

Canadians who identify as LGBTQ (83%) are more likely to agree (29% strongly/54% somewhat) that Canada is a world leader when it comes to LGBTQ issues, compared to three in four (74%) of those who identify as straight (15% strongly/59% somewhat). Youth appears to be the driving factor behind this view, with 79% of those 18-34 agreeing (21% strongly/58% somewhat), compared to 75% of those 35-54 (17% strongly/58% somewhat) and 72% of those 55 and over (12% strongly/59% somewhat).

Despite this, many feel that these issues still don't receive enough attention in Canada. This is especially true of LGBTQ Canadians: six in ten (62%) agree (15% strongly/48% somewhat). By contrast, four in ten (40%) Canadians who identify as straight agree that these issues don't receive enough attention (7% strongly/33% somewhat). Asked if the quality of life for the LGBTQ community in Canada has improved over the last twenty years, an overwhelming majority feel that it has. Nine in ten (93%) LGBTQ Canadians agree (50% strongly/43% somewhat), as do nine in ten (92%) straight Canadians (32% strongly/60% somewhat).

(Click to enlarge image)

(Click to enlarge image)

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 9 and May 11, 2016, on behalf of Yahoo. For this survey, a sample of 2,051 Canadians from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ - 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson
Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
[email protected]

About Ipsos in Canada

Ipsos is Canada's market intelligence leader, the country's leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos' marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos in Canada is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

To learn more, please visit ipsos.ca.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry.

With offices in 86 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of e1,669.5 ($2,218.4 million) in 2014.

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