News That Matters

CBS News poll: How do people view book bans, trans rights issues?


Book bans make headlines. A stance on LGBTQ issues might impact a company’s business or draw the ire of the right. With Republicans almost universally telling us they want 2024 candidates who’ll “challenge woke ideas,” it’s clear race and gender issues are staying in the spotlight this campaign. 

Here we look at what may be driving Republicans’ interest in these issues, whether they’re popular and how, on matters of what to actually do, the party shows some splits between MAGA Republicans and the rest.

For a lot of Republicans, there’s a pushback against the perceived overreach of today’s diversity and inclusion efforts: 82% of Republicans say efforts in the U.S. to promote the rights of transgender people are “going too far.” (Most independents, for their part, say the same.) 

And then two-thirds of Republicans say efforts to promote racial diversity in the U.S. are “going too far.”

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On this question, Republicans are very different from Democrats, most of whom say such efforts to promote racial diversity “haven’t gone far enough.” (Together it’s a difference that might inform a lot of the policy splits in today’s politics.)

On the details of just how to “challenge” though, there are some splits inside the party. Starting with how to address private companies’ stances. 

About half of Republicans say, in general, they are less apt to patronize a business that expresses support for LGBTQ rights. This is especially true of MAGA Republicans. 

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But then there are some telling differences within the GOP over the role of government — and whether it should either punish, attract, or do nothing toward these businesses that take stances on LGBTQ issues. 

You’ll see most Republicans in general say their state should do neither — unsurprising perhaps, given the more general hands-off opinion toward private business we’ve seen Republicans voice over generations. 

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But there’s a bit of difference between the MAGA group and the rest of the party.

Expressly non-MAGA Republicans would have their state government do nothing, but about three times more MAGA Republicans would have a state government punish such businesses.

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Then there’s the matter of book bans, a part of the controversies over what can and can’t be taught in schools.

It turns out book bans over topics of race and history are really unpopular across party lines, with big majorities of Republicans opposed. Whether a book deals with race, or slavery; or criticizes U.S. history, massive and bipartisan majorities of Americans say not to ban it in schools.

That’s also true for parents.

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Underpinning the commonality: Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike tend to think that when students learn about the history of race, it at least promotes understanding of what others have gone through.

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However, approval of book bans increases when their subject matter turns to LGBTQ people: half of Republicans would accept bans of books with LGBTQ characters, and support for bans rises among Democrats, too, in that circumstance. That helps push the overall public number higher than any of the other items for race and history tested.

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Moving from businesses to transgender athletes in particular, there’s a more general belief in the country that transgender athletes should be required to play on the team of their sex at birth — and Republicans are especially likely to think this.

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This analysis references two separate CBS News/YouGov surveys conducted April 27-29, 2023, and May 2-4, 2023. They were conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,372 and 1,089 U.S. adult residents respectively and weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as past vote. The April 27-29 study also included an oversample of self-identified Republicans. The margins of error are ±3.1 points for April 27-29 and +-4.5 for May 2-4.

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