The 2017 Louisiana Survey: Opinion Divided on “Religious-Freedom” Laws and Use of Public Restrooms by Transgender Individuals, But More Support for Protections Against Discrimination in Workplace

BATON ROUGE – Results from the 2017 Louisiana Survey show that Louisiana is split over policies termed “religious-freedom” laws to allow businesses to refuse services to same-sex couples on the basis of religion and tilts in a conservative direction on the use of public restrooms by transgender individuals. Yet, public opinion in the state is much more supportive of state laws to prohibit discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Louisiana Survey is an annual project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, which identifies the opinions of Louisiana residents on important public policy areas and shares those opinions with state policy decision makers.

Like the United States as a whole, Louisianans are split about evenly between those who think businesses should be allowed to refuse services to same-sex couples on religious grounds (47 percent) and those who believe these businesses should be required to provide their services (49 percent).

A majority (56 percent) think transgender people should be required to use the bathroom of the gender they were born into, while only about a third think they should be allowed to use the restroom of the gender with which they currently identify.

Approximately three-fourth (76 percent) support legal protection from discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation. A similar share (70 percent) support protection from discrimination in the workplace on the basis of gender identity. In each case, Democrats are more supportive than Republicans, but majorities of both parties endorse these protections.

About the Louisiana Survey
Since 2003, the Louisiana Survey has tracked public opinion about policy issues in the state. The 2017 Louisiana Survey was administered over the telephone from Feb. 23 to March 23, 2017, to both landline and cell phone respondents. The project includes a representative sample of 1,012 adult Louisiana residents. The total sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.     

A copy of the report is available at This is the sixth in a series of six releases on results from the 2017 Louisiana Survey: 




Contact Michael Henderson
Public Policy Research Lab


Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations