If you keep up with education-related news you would believe that Americans are starkly divided on the teaching of controversial topics in school. However, recent survey data indicate that is not actually the case with the glaring exception of one area.
A new study out of the University of Southern California shows that by and large Americans are NOT extremely divided on controversial topics in schools. As a matter of fact, according to this survey they overwhelmingly support it. Democrats were overall more likely to support teaching topics defined as partisan or controversial but in most cases, Republican support was not far off. For example, teaching about slavery was supported by nearly 100% of Democrats but a very high percentage of Republicans too. This held true for topics like sex education and the 2nd amendment as well.
However, there was one genre of topic where the divide between Democrats and Republicans was very evident and that was LGBTQ+ issues. For example, the percentage of Democrats that favored teaching about transgender rights was more than double the share of Republicans. This is summed up by an excerpt from the study:
“Looking across the list of 24 controversial topics, the results just described were almost all bipartisan in nature, as shown in Figure 8. For 20, majorities of both Republicans and Democrats supported high school students learning about them. The exceptions to this bipartisanship were all related to LGBTQ issues: gay rights, sexual orientation, gender identity, and trans rights. For each of these four items, while 84% to 86% of Democrats supported students learning about these topics in high school, less than half as many Republicans (30-39%) were in support (Figure 8). Clearly, on LGBTQ issues there are very sharp partisan divides.”
The divide that is evident in the study is evident in the media and pop culture as well. Though the “curriculum wars” started around critical race theory, most of the latest traction and flashpoints are around LGBTQ+ issues.
Read the full report here.