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Poll: Voters don't think schools should hide gender, name changes from parents

Sixty-five percent of true independents, 78% of Republicans and 38% of Democrats said they didn’t think schools should keep that information from parents.

Published: March 29, 2024 8:54pm

(The Center Square) -

Nearly two-thirds of voters think parents should be informed if a student wants to change their name or pronoun at school.

According to The Center Square Voter’s Voice Poll conducted by Noble Predictive Insights, the majority of likely voters say they disagree with allowing schools to affirm a student’s gender change without notifying parents.

The issue of parental notification has roiled school board meetings in recent years, with LGBTQ+ advocates saying schools should not tell parents about possible gender changes. Parental rights advocates highlight the importance of being part of discussions and knowing what their students are going through.

The poll of over 2,000 likely voters found that 59% disagreed with the statement, “Schools should allow students to use different names or pronouns without notifying parents.” Less than a third, 31%, of respondents said schools should be permitted to keep gender and name changes away from parents.

David Byler, chief of research at Noble Predictive Insights, said in an interview that this poll shows where most people stand on the issue of parental notification versus protections for sexual minority youth at school.

“Voters believe that parents need to be notified and that there is a role to be played where parents get to raise their own children,” Byler said.

“It’s pretty open and shut in this poll, and others as well, that the idea of shutting the parents out of the process – that this is something that happens only with schools and teachers are notified while parents are walled off from information – that’s not a situation that people want,” Byner said.

Likely voters ages 18-34 were the most likely to support allowing schools to avoid notifying parents about gender and name changes, with 54% supporting such policies. Democrats followed them at 51% in favor.

On the other hand, 65% of true independents, 78% of Republicans and 38% of Democrats said they didn’t think schools should keep that information from parents.

“This issue is one of those cultural wedge issues where one side of the political spectrum is united, and the other side is divided or unsure, Byler said. “This is not something where it’s polarized, and that’s part of the reason why you see Republicans using this in so many elections. It’s because it’s an area that unifies their own base and splits their opponents’s base.”

Those with children were more likely to support parental notification policies. A higher percentage of parents with children over 18 support parental notification policies (69%) than those with children under 18 (54%). However, even 51% of likely voters without children support a parent’s right to know about changes to gender and names, according to the poll.

“Americans generally believe in a strong role for parents and parenting, and that’s reflected in this poll,” Byler said.

Previous Voter’s Voice Poll questions illustrate that parental notification is popular. The poll asked voters last fall about parental notification and found that two-thirds (66%) of voters said teachers should be obligated to inform parents if their child changes their gender identification or preferred pronoun at school.

In last year's poll, only 19% said a teacher should not have to tell a parent.

Parental notification policies have caused controversy in school board meetings and subsequent litigation, especially in California, where the state maintains that schools have an obligation to protect a student’s privacy. However, teachers have challenged their school district’s policies, saying they require them to lie to parents about student gender changes.

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