A majority of U.S. citizens support the “Parental Rights in Education” law that was recently approved by Florida lawmakers and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to a poll by Public Opinion Strategies.
When presented with the actual language of the bill, the majority of respondents—irrespective of partisan divisions—voiced their support.
“Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” states the law, dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Overall, 61 percent of survey respondents support the law while only 26 percent oppose it. By political affiliation, 70 percent of Republican voters, 58 percent of independent voters, and 55 percent of Democratic voters support the bill.
Public Opinion Strategies surveyed 1,000 nationwide registered voters from March 25 to 28. The survey has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.53 percentage points.
Among those who voted for President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, 70 percent supported the measure. Among President Joe Biden’s supporters, this number was 53 percent. Among people who know someone from the LGBTQ community, 61 percent said they supported the legislation.
Only 8 percent of respondents said they want states to remove gender from birth certificates while 79 percent oppose the move, including 93 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of independent voters, and 67 percent of Democrats.
The majority of U.S. citizens are also against transgender athletes taking part in competitions that align with their gender identity rather than their birth gender.
By a margin of 60 percent to 24 percent, voters said they believe “transgender athletes should only be allowed to play on sports teams that match their birth gender.” While the majority of Republican (85 percent) and independent (60 percent) voters agreed with this statement, Democratic voters were more divided (39 percent in favor versus 36 percent against).
The parental rights bill was signed into law by DeSantis on March 28. President Joe Biden has called the bill “hateful.” Several progressive lawmakers, celebrities, and activists rallied against the bill on social media, with critics insisting that the measure marginalizes people from the LGBTQ community.
Florida state Rep. Carlos G. Smith, a Democrat who describes himself as the state’s “first LGBTQ Latino legislator,” insisted in a tweet that the bill’s language is “intentionally vague” and “leaves teachers afraid to talk to their students and opens up school districts to costly and frivolous litigation from those seeking to exclude LGBTQ people from ANY GRADE LEVEL.”
Republicans, including DeSantis, say the measures outlined in the bill are reasonable and that topics such as gender identity and sexual orientation ought to be discussed with children by parents and not teachers.
“Kindergarten through 3rd grade. No sex or gender instruction through those grades. That’s what the bill says. Can’t leave them alone until they 9?” John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, wrote in a tweet replying to California state Sen. Scott Wiener’s claim that the Florida bill “made it illegal” to talk about LGBTQ people in school.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.