New poll: voters stand with students, reject book banning and forced outing

In a new poll released today, voters in New Jersey expressed a strong desire to protect students from proposed new policies in some New Jersey school districts that would require educators to out LGBTQ+ students without their consent. The poll, commissioned by the New Jersey Education Association and conducted by Public Policy Polling, tested voters’ attitudes toward several issues that have become hot buttons in the current election cycle, including the rights of LGBTQ+ students and the right of all students to have access to diverse books and curriculum.

Among the poll highlights are:

  • By a 56-point margin (74%-18%) voters agree with the statement: Politicians shouldn’t force teachers to “out” a student who is gay or is using a different pronoun. Forced outings can harm students mentally or cause bullying. It should be up to the student, not politicians, to decide when to reveal their gender identity.
  • By a 59-point margin (77%-18%) voters agree with the statement: It’s up to a student to decide when they are ready to talk to their parents about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • By a 65-point margin (80%-15%) voters agree with the statement: parents have the right to choose what their children read, but they do not have the right to restrict the reading choices of other children. Banning books limits a parent’s right to make informed decisions about what is appropriate for their own children.

Other notable findings include:

  • By a 40-point margin (65%-25%) voters have a favorable opinion of their local public schools.
  • By a 40-point margin (64%-24%) voters agree that “New Jersey teachers are good partners with parents in helping students succeed.”
  • By a 57-point margin (74%-17%) voters have a favorable opinion of New Jersey public school teachers.

The entire poll, including crosstabs, is available here.

NJEA President Sean M. Spiller reacted to the findings.

“In our current polarized political climate, these results demonstrate that New Jersey voters remain deeply committed to the emotional and educational wellbeing of students. The misinformation and disinformation about our public schools that has been flooding our state has certainly done damage to students, parents and educators alike. But it has not broken the fundamental trust New Jersey residents have in our public schools and our educators. And it certainly has not broken the strong bond we have with the parents who entrust us with their children’s education and welfare.

“Just this week, New Jersey landed the top spot in another ranking of America’s public schools. We continue to earn those top ratings in large part because we put students first and build partnerships with parents that center on their children’s safety and learning.

“The results of this poll encourage us to continue building those parent partnerships even in the face of politically motivated attempts to divide us. These results also show that New Jersey’s longstanding commitment to the health, safety and educational wellbeing of students aligns with the values and priorities of New Jersey voters. They should not get distracted by divisive and misleading rhetoric that has no connection to what is really happening in our schools every day.”

Public Policy Polling is a national polling firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina that conducts thousands of polls every election cycle. It has an A- rating by and ranks in the top 20 out of nearly 500 polling firms rated there.  For this poll, 592 registered voters in New Jersey were interviewed from October 11-12. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 4.0%. 31% of the interviews were conducted via telephone and 69% were conducted via text message.