Texas voters view Black Lives Matter unfavorably, support proposed trans ‘bathroom bill’

Lisa Dreher

A poll recently released by The University of Texas and The Texas Tribune shows a majority of Texas voters unfavorably view the Black Lives Matter movement and believe transgender individuals must use the bathroom which aligns with their birth gender as opposed to their gender identity. 

UT’s Texas Politics Project oversees the annual polls which surveyed 1200 registered Texas voters, said Jim Henson, director of the TPP. According to the Texas Politics Project website, the poll was conducted from Oct. 14 to 23 of this year and had a margin of error of 2.83 percentage points. 

Henson said the poll provided them an opportunity to look back at social trends in Texas. 

“One of the virtues of the polling we’ve done together … is we have a long time series on a lot of these things and on a lot of these kinds of attributes and subjects,” Henson said in a Nov. 1 podcast with The Texas Tribune. 

According to a Texas Tribune graphic, 89 percent of Republicans viewed BLM unfavorably and 60 percent of Democrats polled favored it. 

The majority of independents found the movement unfavorable with 72 percent opposed and 15 percent favoring it. The remaining 13 percent of independents had no opinion on the matter. 

Juliet Hooker, government and African and African diaspora studies associate professor, said Texans criticizing the movement are even less receptive to it now because of the shooting in Dallas.

“I think that for a lot of people who were predisposed to being critical of Black Lives Matter, the shooting in Dallas basically became evidence that in fact the Black Lives Matter protests were endangering police officers even though that of course is not the intent of the movement,” Hooker said.

Undeclared sophomore Alex Melton said the poll’s numbers do not surprise him given Texas is a red state. Melton, who is a republican, said he believes the movement is violent but agrees with its message.

“I think there are better ways to work with unity between the community and the police instead of inciting violence at rallies and calling for the death of police officers,” Melton said.

Another social issue that was surveyed, which asked about which bathroom transgender individuals should use, also had polarized results. 

Seventy-six percent of Republicans felt transgender individuals should use the bathroom based on their birth gender, while 50 percent of Democrats said they should use the bathroom which aligns with their gender identity. Both parties had 24 percent of voters who were unsure, according to TPP’s website. 

Sociology graduate student Thatcher Combs said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s claims that men will abuse transgender individuals’ access to women’s restrooms has instilled fear in his republican constituents, causing a divide.

“If you’re [a] middle-class family in East Texas … and you have two little girls, and all the messages you get are that pedophiles want to go into the restroom with your little girls, it’s really easy to turn around and be like ‘I don’t want that to happen,’” Combs said.