Story at a glance
- American parents are mostly divided on whether sexual orientation or gender identity should be addressed in K-12 classrooms, with a slight majority believing either topic does not belong in school.
- But a growing share of parents, particularly Republican parents, also wouldn’t mind if their child were to be taught by an LGBTQ-identifying person or have regular contact with an LGBTQ-identifying person.
- Most Americans overall don’t believe that teachers have much of an influence on students’ sexual orientation or gender identity, but Republicans are mostly split on the matter.
American parents are squarely divided over whether lessons related to sexual orientation or gender identity should be taught in the nation’s K-12 classrooms. But a growing number of adults — particularly Republicans — also say they take little to no issue with things like a child being raised by a same-sex couple and wouldn’t mind being represented by an LGBTQ+ person in Congress, new research shows.
More than 40 percent of American parents in a Morning Consult poll published Monday said they support teaching or discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through high school. A slight majority — 44 percent — said they are opposed to either topic being addressed in their child’s classroom.
More than 80 percent of parents told Morning Consult that they trust their children’s teachers to “act in good faith” and do their jobs responsibly. That includes 82 percent of Republican parents, who have been among the most vocal in accusing educators and school systems of attempting to “indoctrinate” students and pushing a “woke” agenda that may influence a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
In March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a father of three, said parents “should be protected from schools using classroom instruction to sexualize their kids,” later adding that the “gender-bread man” had invaded Florida’s classrooms. Earlier that month, Florida state Sen. Dennis Baxley (R), who introduced the Senate version of what has become known as the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, suggested schools may be guilty of “social engineering.”
According to the Morning Consult poll, most Americans — 55 percent — don’t believe that teachers have much of an influence on a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Republicans, however, are mostly split on the matter, and while 47 percent said kindergarten through 12th grade teachers are not influencing their students’ sexuality or gender identity, 40 percent believe that they are.
Another 13 percent are unsure.
Even so, nearly three-quarters of parents are comfortable with LGBTQ+ people working with their children, including 57 percent of Republican parents. Roughly 30 percent of Republican parents told Morning Consult that they do not personally know or “associate” with an LGBTQ-identifying person. Those parents were more likely to say they are “uncomfortable” having an LGBTQ+ person working with their children.
A recent survey conducted by The Trevor Project found that less than a third of U.S. adults personally know someone who is transgender, but roughly 20 percent know seven or more people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or pansexual.
Overall, American parents are increasingly comfortable with “LGBTQ association,” according to Morning Consult, meaning they take little to no issue with things like a child being raised by a same-sex couple, having a child who is LGBTQ+, or being represented by an LGBTQ+ person in Congress.
Notably, Republicans — although still lagging behind Democrats and Independents — have made significant strides in LGBTQ+ acceptance, according to Morning Consult surveys over the past three years.
In the poll published Monday, 32 percent of Republican parents said they are comfortable with LGBTQ+ history lessons being taught in their child’s classroom, more than twice the amount of Republican parents who were asked the same question in 2019.
Speaking to Morning Consult, former Republican strategist Tim Miller said the data is probably not indicative of an actual increase in LGBTQ+ acceptance by Republicans and the shift is likely politically motivated.
Conservatives had “stopped fighting on gay issues” for a reason, Miller said: “It was a loser, not because overnight every conservative changed their mind about gay marriage.”