Just over half of Americans think sex education should be taught in school, but there is widespread belief the classes should be optional. Even though majorities think it is appropriate to discuss the topics of pregnancy and homosexuality in sex-ed class, a sizable minority says discussing homosexuality should be off limits.
These are just some of the findings of a FOX News poll released Friday.
Overall, more than twice as many people say sex-ed should be taught in school (53 percent) as say it should be left to the parents to teach (20 percent). Another one in four says "both."
By a 16 percentage point margin, people under age 30 are more inclined than seniors aged 65 and over to say sex education should be taught in school. This may be due to the fact that nearly half of seniors say they learned the "facts of life" at home, while a plurality of young people says they learned at school.
If sex-ed classes are taught, the consensus is that parents should be able to keep their kids out. Fully 72 percent say sex ed should be optional, while 26 percent say students should be required to attend.
Parents and non-parents agree sex education should be taught in school, and that it should be optional.
Views are more mixed on the right age to start talking about sexual issues. While 14 percent think it is appropriate to start talking about the birds and bees to elementary school students, most think those topics are best reserved for middle school (61 percent) or even high school (15 percent). Few think it is not appropriate to discuss pregnancy and birth control in sex ed programs at all (8 percent).
Where did you first learn about sex? The most common answer is at home from a parent or guardian (40 percent). About one in four people (26 percent) say they learned about it at school in sex ed class, and another 17 percent say from friends. A few -- about 6 percent -- say they learned about sex from television or books.
When is it appropriate to start discussing homosexuality and sexual orientation in sex education programs? Over half of Americans say they would wait to discuss issues like same-sex marriage until middle school (36 percent) or high school (20 percent). One in 10 says it is fitting to start these discussions with elementary school students (10 percent). Nearly one in three Americans -- 31 percent -- says is it not appropriate to discuss homosexuality and sexual orientation at all.
The views of parents are essentially identical to non-parents on this issue.
Groups most likely to say sexual orientation should not be discussed at all include white born-again Christians (48 percent), conservatives (44 percent), people who regularly attend religious services (42 percent) and Southerners (37 percent).
Men (35 percent) are slightly more likely than women (28 percent) to say homosexuality should not be discussed in sex ed programs at all.
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from June 9 to June 10. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
Some 56 percent of Americans think issues pertaining to homosexuals and the gay community have been getting too much airtime on television lately, while 34 percent say there is the right amount and 6 percent say there is not enough.
Conservatives (72 percent) are significantly more likely than moderates (56 percent) and liberals (33 percent) to say the gay community is currently getting too much exposure on television. Conversely, liberals (50 percent) are more than twice as likely as conservatives (21 percent) to say homosexuals are getting the right amount of television coverage.