Public rejects LGBTQ, sex education in elementary schools, new study shows

Americans are more concerned with the age at which controversial topics are taught, rather than banning them outright. 

That’s one of the findings in a new survey conducted by the Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research at the University of Southern California. 

A resounding majority of those polled support high school education that includes complex topics such as sex education, U.S. economics, views on abortion and election integrity. But only 20-40% of participants supported the same topics being presented in elementary school.  

Notably, Democrats and Republicans diverged significantly on a handful of topics in the survey. 

Democrats emphasized the environment, racial and income equality, sex education, and LGBTQ topics, while their Republican counterparts emphasized patriotism and the Founding Fathers. Yet even among Democrats, the teaching of LGBTQ issues and sex education in elementary grades was supported by less than 50% of participants.

Much stronger support was expressed for such controversial topics being discussed in high school. Abortion views, which were only supported by 21% in elementary education, garnered 75% and 77% support for pro-life and pro-choice positions, respectively, in high school. 

Support for LGBTQ lessons were at 28-30% in elementary school and 59-65% in high school, the least support of any topic for high school.  

However, some states have insisted on implementing policies that require sex education and LGBTQ topics to be introduced in elementary school, some as early as 2nd grade. Others, such as Pennsylvania and Florida, would ban such topics until 5th grade and threaten to revoke or suspend licenses of teachers who introduced these issues in their classroom.    

Critics, many of them parents, wonder why sex education and LGBTQ topics are presented as urgently needed in elementary school, and whether it’s wise to introduce such complex, mature and charged issues at ages in which it’s difficult to comprehend or evaluate them.