How many Americans support LGBTQ+ representation in classrooms and the media?

Oana DumitruContributor
December 01, 2023, 10:41 PM GMT+0

The passage of bills such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ (called Don’t Say Gay by critics) has prompted discussions about the American approach to incorporating LGBTQ+ topics into society. A recent YouGov poll about the inclusion of LGBTQ topics in schools and other settings found that many Americans remain uncomfortable with exposing children to certain information and ideas, including gay characters on shows or teachers with a spouse of the same gender.

When it comes to the introduction of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, non-binary, etc.) history into school curricula, American opinion differs based on the grade in school when the topic would be introduced. While most Americans think LGBTQ+ history should not be taught between kindergarten and Grade 2, fewer than half say the same about Grades 9 through 12. For each set of grades polled about, Republicans are more likely than Democrats and Independents to say that public schools should not teach LGBTQ+ history.

How often are public schools teaching students certain viewpoints relating to LGBTQ+ topics? 40% of Americans say that K-12 students are taught somewhat or very often that for some people, gender may differ from what they were assigned at birth, and 44% say the same about the teaching of the viewpoint that there are other sexual orientations besides heterosexuality. Republicans are more likely than Democrats and Independents to say that each viewpoint is being taught often, and this pattern is also true for the viewpoint that the U.S. is systematically racist. For each of the four issues polled about, the share of Americans who say K-12 students should be taught about those issues is smaller than the share who say they are being taught about those issues often.

On the issue of gender identity more specifically, 36% of Americans — including 62% of Democrats, 32% of Independents, and 10% of Republicans — say that schools should acknowledge students’ gender identities if they differ from the ones assigned at birth.

The poll included an experiment, randomly assigning respondents to one of two groups. In one group, respondents were asked about the appropriateness of three classroom scenarios between students and teachers. In the other group, respondents were presented with three scenarios that were identical to the other groups except for specifying they involved same-sex relationships or attraction. Fewer Americans say it is appropriate for a teacher to talk about their recent wedding or to display a photo of their spouse if the relationship is with someone of the same gender.

Outside the classroom, Americans also face the question of the appropriateness of LGBTQ+ themes in the media. For shows aimed at children 5 and under, 53% of Americans say it is inappropriate to include a character having same-sex parents; 32% say it is appropriate. Americans are more likely to say it is inappropriate than appropriate for a show aimed at children 5 and under to include a character who is gay or lesbian (57% vs. 28%), or a character who is transgender (61% vs. 21%). The same pattern holds true for shows aimed at children ages 6 to 9. For shows aimed at children ages 10 to 14, Americans are more evenly split on whether a character having same-sex parents or a character being gay or lesbian is appropriate or inappropriate. However, when it comes to shows depicting transgender characters, more Americans say it is inappropriate than say it is appropriate, for all age groups 14 and under.


See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: The YouGov poll was conducted online on July 25 - 28, 2023 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. For both polls, the sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample also was weighted by baseline party identification, which is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.

Image: Unsplash (James A. Molnar)

Explore more data & articles