NC residents oppose K-3 sexual orientation teaching but also want to protect students questioning gender and sexuality, WRAL News poll shows

North Carolinians oppose teaching sexual orientation to K-3 students but also don't want counselors outing students who question their sexuality or gender, according to a WRAL News poll released Thursday.

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Bryan Anderson
, WRAL state government reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolinians don’t want schools to teach sexual orientation and gender identity to young students, a WRAL News Poll released Thursday shows. But voters also don’t want counselors to be required to share with parents when their child questions their sexuality.
The issue has taken on heightened importance in North Carolina this year after a bill in the state legislature sought to limit classroom discussions of sexual orientation and give parents a greater understanding of what is happening in school with their child. The bill was passed in the state Senate, but did not clear the House.
A WRAL News Poll released on Thursday shows a plurality of North Carolina adults would support a bill that bans the teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade.

The survey of 1,100 adults in the state, conducted in partnership with SurveyUSA from Sept. 28 through Sunday, found 47% of North Carolinians support a ban on the teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity for students from kindergarten through third grade. Thirty-six oppose such a ban, while 16% aren’t sure.

The poll reported a credibility interval of 3.5 percentage points. A credibility interval is similar to a margin of error but takes into account more factors and is considered by some pollsters to be a more accurate measurement of statistical certainty.

The North Carolina Values Coalition, which supported the so-called Parents’ Bill of Rights measure considered by lawmakers this year, said the results show North Carolinians support the legislation. She believes support would be even greater if respondents weren’t asked about the measure in the context of a ban.

“A strong majority of people in North Carolina support legislation that would prohibit the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, and that was a pivotal piece of the legislation that was put forth last year in the Parents’ Bill of Rights,” said Tami Fitzgerald, the conservative organization’s executive director. “This shows strong support for the bill.”

LGBTQ+ advocates opposed the bill out of concern it could put some students at risk. For some LGBTQ children, school is their only supportive environment and many may face hostility — or worse — in a household that isn’t accepting, advocates and educators have said.

“We have to understand that we must prioritize the safety and security of young people and stop arguing about whether we think being LGBTQ is good morally,” said Rebby Kern, director of education for Equality NC, an LGBTQ advocacy group. “This is a part of who people are. We, in public school, welcome every child every day and we have to do what's best for them.

A WRAL News Poll shows partisan divides over whether gender identity and sexual orientation should be taught to students in kindergarten through third grade.

Chris Cooper, a Western Carolina University political scientist, said the partisan breakdown in responses to the WRAL survey came as a bit of a surprise.

Two-thirds of Republicans, half of independents and one-third of Democrats supported a ban on teaching sexual orientation or gender identity to K-3 students.

A WRAL News Poll released on Thursday shows voters split along party lines about whether North Carolina children questioning their sexual orientation to a school employee should be reported to their parents.

The poll found that Democrats, by a 24-point margin, and independents, by a 15-point margin, opposed requiring public school employees to inform parents when a student confides in them to question their sexual orientation. Republicans, meanwhile, supported requiring the school worker to share the information to the parent by a 20-point margin.

“The unaffiliated voters did not seem to be on board with this idea,” Cooper said. “These are not all swing voters, but most of the swing voters are in that category. As we’re trying to understand electoral politics or just the future of North Carolina politics, that’s the group you want to look at.”

WRAL Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie contributed to this article.


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