Your students’ parents may have conflicting views on K12 LGBTQ policies

Most adults approve of discussions about the LGBTQ community but not books that feature an LGBTQ teen as a main character.

When it comes to K12 LGBTQ policies in your schools, parents and other adults prefer classroom discussions to the use of students’ preferred pronouns, a new poll reveals.

Americans appear to be working through some conflicting views on how schools teach about LGBTQ issues and how visible it should same-sex relationships and transgender lifestyles should be in the nation’s classrooms. For example, a majority of adults think that teachers—including those in elementary school—should be able to display pictures of same-sex spouses on their desks, according to the latest “Mood of the Nation” poll conducted in May by the APM Research Lab and The McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State University.

But here’s where the contrasts around K12 LGBTQ policies emerge. Seven in 10 adults say it’s OK for middle school classes to discuss members of the LGBTQ community, but fewer than half believe that teachers should assign books that feature an LGBTQ teen as a main character.

More from DA: Lots of K12 leadership vacancies are being filled as summer break begins

Whether educators should use students’ preferred pronouns also divides parents and other Americans. Nearly 20% support teachers using students’ preferred pronouns but a “virtually identical proportion” oppose the practice, the survey finds. A slightly higher number—23%—say teachers should decide the issue.

“The ‘live and let live’ philosophy reflected in the display of a family photo does not extend to literature assigned to children,” says poll director Eric Plutzer, a professor of political science and sociology at Penn State. “Republicans in particular apparently see the latter as unacceptable advocacy, and this denies teens the opportunity to see people like themselves reflected in books.”

Finally, the adults surveyed agree that parents and teachers should have the most influence over K12 LGBTQ policies as they apply to classroom discussions and preferred pronouns. They believe that “local citizens,” state legislators and governors should have the least control over these rules.

“What stands out is that the American people are telling governors and state legislators to butt out of these school controversies, and let things be hashed out by teachers, school boards and parents,” Plutzer concludes.

More perspectives on K12 LGBTQ policies

Americans are evenly split when asked if they worry that schools are giving students harmful information about gender and sexual orientation, according to a separate survey by the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute. Exactly half of those surveyed say this is not happening while 49% say the opposite.

Republicans are far more likely to express this concern than are independents or Democrats. A large majority of Republicans also believe that schools are interfering “too much” with parents’ rights over what their children are taught.

Only a small percentage of Americans think that elementary school students should be taught about gender identity or same-sex relationships. Americans are more comfortable with the topics being introduced in middle and high school. A little more than a third say K12 schools should never teach about gender identity while a quarter want schools to avoid discussing same-sex relationships.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

Most Popular