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40% of Republicans believe teachers can influence children’s sexual orientation or gender

A teacher in Kentucky got violent threats when he wrote an affirming message on his board.
A teacher in Kentucky got violent threats when he wrote an affirming message on his board.Photo: Facebook screenshot

Conservatives have spent the last several months denouncing LGBTQ teachers as “groomers” and pedophiles, with rightwing pundits often saying that they believe that talking to children about LGBTQ issues can turn kids gay.

It turns out that a large number of Republicans believe that teachers can actually make children turn queer.

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40% of Republican adults said that they believe teachers can influence students’ sexuality and gender identity, according to a new Morning Consult poll. Only 27% of Democrats and 29% of independents agreed.

Respondents were more likely in the poll to say that teachers can affect students’ academic performance, social skills, intelligence, values, and even religious views, but the alarmingly large number who believe that sexual orientation and gender identity are learned at school may be why so many Republican parents don’t want LGBTQ people to work with children.

The survey found that 31% of Republican parents are “uncomfortable” with LGBTQ people working with their kids, and another 13% had no opinion. Slightly over half – 57% – said they were “comfortable” with LGBTQ people working with their children.

In contrast, 84% of Democratic parents said that they were “comfortable” with LGBTQ people working with their kids and only 10% were “uncomfortable.”

The survey also asked parents if they were comfortable with lessons about “the LGBTQ civil rights movement” being taught in school, and compared that to whether they were comfortable with discussions of “sexual orientation and gender identity.” Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law bans discussions of “sexual orientation and gender identity” in early grades and requires them to be “developmentally appropriate” in older grades – without defining what that means – and many advocates on both sides have taken that language to mean that discussions about LGBTQ people are restricted.

59% of Republican parents said that they oppose lessons about the LGBTQ civil rights movement in schools, and 60% opposed lessons about sexual orientation and gender identity. Democratic parents were less homophobic; only 25% opposed lessons about the LGBTQ civil rights movement and 29% oppose lessons about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Conservative pundits have been saying that parents, generally, don’t want LGBTQ people mentioned in schools. But it looks like it may just be Republican parents who get upset with teachers who mention their same-sex spouses (but never their opposite-sex spouses).

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