A majority of Americans oppose teachers discussing their political views in public schools, according to a new national poll.
A survey released Wednesday by Grinnell College National Poll found 57% of US adults said it was inappropriate for public school teachers to share their political opinions in the classroom.
A slightly higher number (58%) of parents agreed political views have no place in public education.
Nearly two-thirds of suburban women (65%), self-identified Catholics (64%) and people with incomes over $100,000 (63%) also don’t want politics discussed in classes.
The number climbs higher among right-leaning independents and Republicans, with 68% opposing teachers who talk politics.
The president of Selzer & Company, which conducted the poll from March 14 to 19, said the findings show the realignment of a voting electorate that swung from Donald Trump in 2016 to Joe Biden in 2020 — and appears ready for another swing rightward.
“Views of what is happening in public schools is the one place where suburban women align with Republicans,” said J. Ann Selzer. “The reason we hear so many messages about what is happening in public schools may be the Republican wish to retake the suburbs in key swing states (for example, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania).”
“That shift from voting for Donald Trump in 2016 to Joe Biden in 2020 hinged on a shift among suburban voters, in particular suburban women,” she added.
Republican governors like Glenn Youngkin in Virginia and Ron DeSantis in Florida won elections in 2021 and 2022, respectively, on platforms to largely remove divisive political discussions from public education.
The two are widely expected to announce presidential campaigns in 2024 after having passed laws and signed executive orders to prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in schools, among other measures.
Around 56% of adults said state officials should play a part in deciding what books school libraries keep on their shelves, with 39% calling for a “small part” and 17% calling for a “big part.”
However, the survey showed 43% of adults prefer decisions about school library materials to not be handled by state governments.
Fifty-seven percent of adults would prefer the issue handled by librarians, while 55% preferred students and 53% preferred students’ families.
Forty-four percent of Americans said local school boards should handle the issue in large part, and 42% said the school boards partially handle it.
Just 13% of adults believe school board members have no part in the decision.
Additionally, the Grinnell poll revealed the majority of Americans support the presence in middle school libraries of all kinds of books.
Eighty-four percent believe the Bible should be available, and 76% believe books about racism in American society should be available.
Majorities believe books about gender identity (57%) and sexual orientation (56%) should also be available.
But a large plurality — 41% and 42%, respectively — believe they should be thrown out.
In a press conference earlier this month, DeSantis, 44, showed sexually explicit material found in school library books in Florida, which media had to cut away from due to its pornographic content.
DeSantis and Youngkin have both been accused of needlessly banning books on LGBTQ themes during their time in office.
DeSantis has also faced questions about the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida, which he signed into law to prevent the discussion of gender identity issues in school before the fourth grade.
Youngkin, 56, has also drafted policies to keep schools from hiding a student’s gender transition from their parents.
Sixty-six percent of respondents in the Grinnell poll said it is important for school officials to disclose a change in a student’s gender status to their parents, whereas 31% said it was “not important.”
More than 3 million students currently attend schools that have guidance policies blocking parents from knowing what gender their child identifies as in the classroom.
At least 9 GOP-controlled states are also preparing to ban gender-transition surgeries and hormone therapies for minors in the coming legislative year.
According to the Grinnell College poll, Americans split over the issue along party lines, with a narrow majority of 53% opposing a universal ban on gender-transition procedures.
Seventy-eight percent of Democrats support such procedures for children under 18, whereas 68% of Republicans do not. A slight majority of independents side with Democrats on the issue.
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