When you hear news stories about a battle against homosexualrights, don’t believe it: a recent Florida study shows thatportraying the gay rights conflict as a sharply dividedbattle between homosexuals and social conservatives ignoresthe ambivalent feelings held by the vast majority of peoplein the middle. “The American public appears to be on averageboth supportive and hostile to homosexual and gay rights,depending on the specific question being asked,” saysresearcher Stephen Craig. “Someone might think thathomosexuals should not be discriminated against in theworkplace because of their sexual orientation but at thesame time express the opinion they don’t want gays orlesbians teaching impressionable young kids in the schools.”
Craig and his team called Florida residents and asked them alist of questions on the rights of homosexual and then ratedthe responses. The questions were: should homosexuals shouldbe allowed to teach in schools; should same-sex marriagesshould be recognized as legal; should homosexuals be allowedto serve in the US military; should homosexuals be permittedto adopt children; what homosexuals do in the privacy oftheir own homes is nobody else?s business; there should belaws to protect homosexuals against discrimination in theirjobs; should homosexuals should be allowed to join the BoyScouts and other youth organizations; and should homosexualcouples should be able to obtain family health insurancecoverage, the same way other people do.
Nearly three-fourths (74%) of the Floridians surveyed wereambivalent, rather than negative, about at least one of theeight statements, and about one-third (31%) were ambivalenton seven of the eight items. This is especially significantbecause, although the participants were not asked their age,there are more elderly people in Florida than in most otherstates, and older people tend to be more conservative abouthomosexuality, while younger people are much more likely toaccept it and consider it genetic, rather than achoice?probably because they’ve grown up with gay friends,now that kids are encouraged to “come out” much earlier.Craig says, “Surveys show that Americans have come to thinkmore favorably of homosexuality and gay rights, perhapsbecause of shifts in values.”
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