New Jersey: Majority Support Parental Notification for Gender Identity
Just under half (45%) of New Jersey adults say the state’s public schools are doing too much when it comes to teaching about gender identity. This compares to 23% who say schools are doing the right amount and 16% who say they are not doing enough. Opinion among parents of children under the age of 18 is similar to the views of nonparents on this question.
While a majority of New Jerseyans (60%) approve of teaching students in grades 9 through 12 about “the range of ways people express their gender,” support dips below a majority for doing this in grades 6 through 8 (42%) and drops to less than one-quarter for grades 1 through 5 (22%). Parent and nonparent opinion is similar on these questions.
“It does seem clear that a large cross section of New Jerseyans are uncomfortable with discussing these issues in elementary school even though the state has different gender identity education standards for various grade levels. An open question is to what extent those distinctions are understood by the public,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Three in four New Jerseyans (77%) feel middle and high schools should be required to notify parents if their child wants to be identified as a different gender than what is on their school registration. A state judge issued a temporary injunction last week in a court case involving a handful of school districts that recently enacted this requirement. Even if this notification is not required, 55% of state residents say it would be better for the school to let the parents know of a student’s gender identity request while 41% say this is something the schools should let the student and their parents deal with on their own. Among parents of minors, 81% say schools should require notification of gender identity requests by students and 59% feel schools should still let parents know even if it is not a requirement.
The poll also asked about transgender recognition and accommodation issues that have been in the news recently. A majority of state residents (58%) say transgender students should use the bathroom facilities designated as “boys” or “girls” that match their assigned gender at birth rather than their current gender identity. Just 28% feel transgender students should use the bathroom that matches their gender identity and 14% are unsure how this should be handled. However, a majority of New Jerseyans (55%) do support providing gender-inclusive bathrooms in schools for students of any gender to use.
Poll results are similar for placing students into gender-segregated sex education classes. A majority of state residents (54%) would require transgender students to take sex education with students who are the same sex as they were assigned at birth, while 27% say transgender students should be able to attend sex education classes with students of their same gender identity. Another 19% are unsure of their opinion on this.
When it comes to student athletics, a majority of the state feels that transgender students should play on teams with students of the same gender as their birth-assigned sex. These results are similar in separate questions about participation on sports teams for transgender students who were recorded as male (64%) or female (59%) on their birth certificates.
“Most New Jerseyans, like most Americans, do not recognize transgender identity in a broad sense. This is reflected in how they view these issues being dealt with in schools,” said Murray.
In general, just over one-third (36%) of Garden State residents feel that someone can be a man or a woman even if that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. A national Pew Research Center survey conducted last year found a similar 38% of the American public holding that view. Just over half of New Jersey adults report knowing someone who is transgender, including 22% who are close to a transgender person and 31% who have a transgender acquaintance. These numbers are similar for parents and nonparents. The survey finds small and statistically insignificant differences in opinion about school handling of gender identity issues based on parents’ connection to someone who is transgender. The biggest difference is on the question of providing gender-inclusive bathrooms in schools, which is supported by 65% of parents who know a transgender person and 50% of parents who do not. On other questions in the poll, differences between these two groups of parents is no larger than 10 percentage points and is usually much smaller.
There are slight differences in statewide public opinion based on gender and age, with women and adults under 35 years old being somewhat more supportive of transgender recognition in education. However, the poll finds that partisan identity is a much more influential factor than any other demographic, including knowing someone who is transgender. In general, 63% of New Jersey Democrats, compared with just 32% of independents and only 8% of Republicans, believe that a person’s gender can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
On how schools handle this issue, the vast majority of Republicans oppose teaching about gender identity at all grade levels – elementary (97%), middle (86%) and high (69%) school. This stands in contrast to majorities of Democrats (82%) and independents (61%) who support teaching this at the high school level and a majority of Democrats (68%) who approve discussing these issues in middle school. Independents have mixed views about teaching gender identity at the middle school level (40% approve and 56% disapprove) and most are opposed to doing this in younger grades (78% disapprove). Democrats are divided on teaching gender identity at the elementary school level (41% approve and 56% disapprove).
The partisan disparity on this issue is also evident on the question of requiring parental notification for student gender identity requests. This action receives majority support from all groups, but ranges from 92% of Republicans, to 81% of independents, to 61% of Democrats. If such notification is not required, though, most Democrats (58%) feel schools should leave this issue to the student and their parents to deal with. Most Republicans (76%) and independents (58%) say schools should still let parents know if their student makes such a request.
There is no significant difference in opinion on these questions for Republicans based on whether they know someone who is transgender and the same is true among independents for the most part. However, personal relationships do seem to influence Democrats’ views. For example, Democrats who do not know a transgender person (51%) are more likely than those who do (26%) to feel that schools should notify parents about a student’s gender identity request even when not required to do so. Democrats who do not personally know a transgender person are also significantly less likely to support teaching about gender identity at the elementary and middle school levels. There is no significant difference in Democratic opinion about teaching gender identity at the high school level based on knowing someone who is transgender.
Just under half (45%) of New Jerseyans say their opinions about how transgender issues are handled in schools are strongly held and unlikely to change. Another 40% say they are open to changing their minds about their opinion and 15% are unsure. Republicans (57%) are more likely than Democrats (42%) and independents (41%) to say their views are firmly set. More specifically, those who disapprove of gender identity education at the middle and high school levels are more likely than others to say their views are unlikely to change. However, New Jerseyans who favor parental notification and oppose gender identity education at the elementary school level are no more likely to have strongly held views than those who hold the opposite view on these questions.
“There is more agreement on how gender identity education should be handled at the younger grade levels, but it seems the public debate is being framed by those who are opposed to gender identity recognition at any age. This can muddy the waters for those who may hold a more nuanced view but are most concerned about what is going on at the elementary school level,” said Murray.
Other poll findings show that 38% of the New Jersey public has been paying a lot of attention to how gender identity and transgender issues are being handled in the state’s public schools, 41% are paying a little attention and 21% are paying no attention. Republicans (49%), who tend to be more strongly opposed to recognizing transgender identity in schools, are more likely than independents (37%) and Democrats (31%) to be paying a lot of attention to this issue.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 10 to 14, 2023 with 814 New Jersey adults. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 5.4 percentage points for the full sample. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.
QUESTIONS AND RESULTS
(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)
[Q1, 13-34 held for future release.]
[Q2-12 previously released.]
35. Which statement comes closer to your view, even if neither is exactly right: Whether someone is a man or a woman is determined by the sex they were assigned at birth OR Someone can be a man or a woman even if that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth? [CHOICES WERE ROTATED]
|Sex assigned at birth||53%|
|Can be different from sex assigned at birth||36%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||10%|
36. How much attention have you been paying to how gender identity and transgender issues are being handled in New Jersey public schools – a lot, a little, or not at all?
|Not at all||21%|
37. In general, are New Jersey public schools doing too much, the right amount, or not enough in teaching about gender identity?
|(VOL) Don’t know||17%|
38. Say a [middle/high] school student wants to be identified as a different gender than what is on their school registration. Should the school be required or not required to notify the parents that the student is requesting this? [Note: Different school levels were asked for half the sample and produced nearly identical results – 77%-21% for middle school and 76%-21% for high school.]
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%|
39. Even if the school is not required to notify the parents, do you think it is better if the school lets the parents know even if the student does not want them to know, or is it better if the school lets the parents and student deal with this on their own?
|Let parents know||55%|
|Let parents and student deal with it||41%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||4%|
[QUESTIONS 40-42 WERE ROTATED]
40. Do you approve or disapprove of teaching students in grades 1 through 5 about the range of ways people express their gender?
|(VOL) Don’t know||3%|
41. Do you approve or disapprove of teaching students in grades 6 through 8 about the range of ways people express their gender?
|(VOL) Don’t know||4%|
42. Do you approve or disapprove of teaching students in grades 9 through 12 about the range of ways people express their gender?
|(VOL) Don’t know||4%|
43. Middle and high schools generally put boys and girls into separate classes to teach sexual education. Should students who identify as transgender be able to attend the sex ed class for their current gender identity or should they be required to attend the sex ed class for the gender they were assigned at birth?
|Current gender identity||27%|
|Gender assigned at birth||54%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||19%|
44. If the only bathroom options in a school were boys and girls facilities, should students who identify as transgender be able to use the bathroom for their current gender identity or should they use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth?
|Current gender identity||28%|
|Gender assigned at birth||58%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||14%|
44A. Do you favor or oppose schools providing gender inclusive bathrooms that students of any gender can use?
|(VOL) Don’t know||7%|
On the issue of student athletes…
[QUESTIONS 45A &45B WERE ROTATED]
45A. Should a transgender boy be allowed to play on the boys team in line with their gender identity or should they have to play on the girls team in line with their assigned sex at birth?
|Boys team/gender identity||27%|
|Girls team/assigned at birth||59%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||14%|
45B. Should a transgender girl be allowed to play on the girls team in line with their gender identity or should they have to play on the boys team in line with their assigned sex at birth?
|Girls team/gender identity||23%|
|Boys team/assigned at birth||64%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||13%|
46. Would you say your opinion about how transgender issues are handled in schools are strongly held and unlikely to change or are they not strongly held and open to change?
|Strongly held and unlikely to change||45%|
|Not strongly held and open to change||40%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||15%|
47. Do you know anyone who is transgender? [If YES: Is this someone you are close to as family or a friend, or more of an acquaintance?]
|Yes, someone close to||22%|
|Yes, more of acquaintance||31%|
|No, do not know anyone transgender||44%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||3%|
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from August 10 to 14, 2023 with a probability-based random sample of 814 New Jersey adults age 18 and older. Interviews were conducted in English, and included 245 live landline telephone interviews, 360 live cell phone interviews, and 209 online surveys via a cell phone text invitation. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2021 one-year survey). Interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, with sample obtained from Dynata. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 5.4 percentage points adjusted for sample design effects (1.56). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
NJ Regions (by county)
North – Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, Union, Warren
Central – Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset
South – Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, Salem
Party (self-reported): 22% Republican, 43% Independent, 35% Democrat
Sex: 49% Male, 51% Female
Age: 27% 18-34, 34% 35-54, 39% 55+
Race: 55% White, 13% Black, 19% Hispanic, 13% Asian/Other
College: 58% No degree, 42% 4 year degree
|MARGIN OF ERROR|
|SELF-REPORTED PARTY ID||Republican||163||12.0%|
|COLLEGE GRADUATE||No degree||293||8.9%|
|4 year degree||516||6.7%|
|$50 to <$100K||227||10.2%|
|CHILDREN IN HOME||Yes||186||11.2%|
Crosstabs may be found in the PDF file on the report webpage: https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/monmouthpoll_NJ_082223/