Public Concerned About Discrimination in Many Forms

25 Sep, 2018

Public Affairs Pulse Survey

Public Concerned About Discrimination in Many Forms

Strong majorities of Americans are concerned about discrimination in all of its forms: based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, gender and age. Those are the findings of the 2016 Public Affairs Pulse survey, a new nationwide poll of 1,000 adults.

Race and Gender Identity Rank Most Serious
The problem of racial discrimination is considered the most serious discrimination challenge the country faces, followed by gender identity (transgender) discrimination.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Americans believe racial discrimination is, at least, a serious problem and 37 percent say it is a very serious problem. Similar percentages call gender identity discrimination at least serious (67%) or very serious (37%).

Concerns about discrimination based on gender identity, as well as by sexual orientation, which also ranked high by respondents as serious (64%) or very serious (35%), reflect changing attitudes by the American public and the courts. Marriage equality became the law of the land in June 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Earlier this year, North Carolina passed a controversial law that eliminates LGBT anti-discrimination protections and requires that people in government buildings may only use restroom and changing facilities that correspond to the gender indicated on their birth certificates. Many companies have publicly opposed the law, with some going so far as to boycott events and business activities in the state.

Most Americans also believe other types of discrimination are serious concerns, including discrimination based on disability, religion, gender and age. In fact, all categories of discrimination were ranked as serious by a majority of Americans.

Attitudes about discrimination do, however, vary sharply based on political party, age, gender and other factors. Learn more about the demographic breakdown of the survey.

Americans also want major companies to play a role in combating discrimination. Learn more about how the public perceives business’ role.

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The Public Affairs Pulse survey, conducted September 12–17, 2016, by Public Opinion Strategies, is based on a telephone poll of 1,000 adults nationwide.


Laura Horsley
Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
202.787.5963 | email