A majority of Americans oppose legislation restricting classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, as Republican officials promote what opponents have called “Don’t Say Gay” bills in state legislatures across the US, according to a new poll.
A poll conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News this week found that 62 per cent of Americans oppose such legislation, while 37 per cent support it.
Republicans are more likely to support such legislation, with 61 per cent of poll respondents who identify as Republican voters supporting restrictive measures compared to only 20 per cent of Democratic voters and 35 per cent of independent voters.
The poll follows the passage of Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill in the state’s GOP-controlled legislature, barring classroom instruction of “sexual orientation or gender identity” from kindergarten through the third grade and any such discussion “that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students” in other grades.
It also allows parents to sue school districts if they believe the measure has been violated.
Georgia Republicans have also introduced the “Common Humanity in Private Education Act”, which prohibits the state’s private schools and programmes from promoting, compelling or encouraging classroom discussion of “sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not appropriate for the age and developmental stage of the student.”
Another measure in Tennessee would block public schools from using instructional materials that “promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender issues or lifestyles.”
The bills join a nationwide effort among GOP legislators and governors targeting classrooms in their 2022 campaigns – from increased surveillance of classroom discussion to legislation condemning perceived “critical race theory” curriculums – which opponents argue seeks to marginalise LGBT+ students and families and censor lessons on American history.
Opponents warn such measures are being used to strip away civil liberties and stigmatise LGBT+ Americans while drawing teachers and schools into frivolous culture-war-driven lawsuits.
This year, Republican state legislators have proposed more than 266 bills targeting LGBT+ Americans, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Of those proposals, at least 125 directly target transgender people.
In 2021, at least 25 anti-LGBT+ measures were signed into law across the US, including 13 laws targeting transgender people in eight states, according to the organisation.
A poll of Florida voters from the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida found that 57 per cent oppose the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” billl “either strongly or somewhat”.
The bill passed the state’s House of Representatives on 24 February and the state Senate on 8 March. Governor Ron Desantis intends to sign into law, effective from 1 July.
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