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Washington Public Opinion Research on Sex Education

Attitudes Toward Abortion, Sex Ed, and Birth Control

  • A majority of Washington voters are pro-choice. Forty percent believe abortion should be legal and generally available and 17% believe it should remain legal in many circumstances but be subject to regulation. Thirty percent believe abortion should only be legal in extreme circumstances, and only 8% believe all abortion should be made illegal.
  • Democrats (82%) and college educated voters (65%) are most likely to be pro-choice. Although Republicans are strongly anti-choice (71%), they are also likely to be conflicted (64%).
  • The subgroups most likely to be conflicted are Independents, Northeastern voters, Silent voters, and Southeastern voters. 
  • A strong majority support requiring schools to offer medically accurate, age appropriate, comprehensive, sex education in public schools – 86% support, 70% strongly support.
  • Democrats – especially Democratic women – secular voters, pro-choice voters, and mothers strongly support requiring schools to offer comprehensive sex ed. Republicans and anti-choice voters also support by wide margins.
  • Washington voters also find it very important that people in Washington have access to all of the reproductive health care options available, including abortion (77% say it is important and 61% say it is very important). Democrats, pro-choice voters, King County voters, Millennials, and people of color are most likely to find universal access important.
  • Democrats and people of color are most likely to favor universal coverage. Republicans and anti-choice voters are most likely to oppose.
  • Statements that encourage teaching young people healthy relationship skills, comprehensive sex education, and LGBTQ inclusivity are strongly supported by Washington voters. They do not believe this “encourages the transgender lifestyle,” testing language that was used by bill opponents in 2019.
    • Young people need to understand what a healthy relationship looks like and have the opportunity to practice good communication skills before they become sexually active – 92% agree, 82% strongly agree
    • It's important that all students across WA have access to comprehensive, medically accurate, age appropriate sex education, no matter their zip code – 87% agree, 75% strongly agree*
    • We should require that all schools teach medically accurate, age appropriate sex education – 86% agree, 68% strongly agree*
    • It's important to dispel myths and stigma around sexual health for the LGBTQ community and that starts with awareness and sex education – 67% agree, 54% strongly agree*
    • Sex education that is LGBTQ inclusive provides young people opportunity to understand sexual orientation and gender identity in an open and inclusive way – 63% agree, 46% strongly agree*
    • Sex education encourages the transgender lifestyle – 17% agree, 9% strongly agree
  • The only statement that Washington voters solidly do not agree with was the statement that sex education “encourages the transgender lifestyle” (71% disagree, 60% strongly disagree), language that was used by bill opponents in 2019.
  • People of color are slightly more likely to agree with statements that encourage access to comprehensive sex ed and dispel LGBTQ stigma than White voters.
  • The top five statements are strongly agreed upon across all subgroups tested.


Legislation in Washington State

  • State proposals that include requiring or expanding age-appropriate medically accurate sex education curriculum in schools to include healthy relationships and communication skills garner the strongest levels of voter support across the state.
    • Eighty-six percent favor requiring sex ed to include healthy relationships and communication skills (72% strongly favor). Eighty-three percent favor expanding sex ed so it includes healthy relationships and communication skills (66% strongly favor).*
    • Groups most likely to favor requiring sex ed include: voters 50+, Millennials, Boomers, Democrats, Independents, pro-choice voters, people of color, college educated voters, King County voters, and people who attend religious services sometimes or rarely.
    • Voters who attend religious services often are most likely to favor expanding sex education that includes healthy relationships and communication skills.
  • Proposals that call for ending restrictive abortion legislation and increasing state investment in reproductive health care with the condition of increasing taxes have lower intensity (38% v. 37% strongly favor) but are still favored by at least half of voters.
    • End laws that restrict access to abortion, such as laws that ban insurance coverage for abortion, laws that require waiting periods, and laws that require doctors to give patients medically inaccurate information – 50% favor, 38% strongly favor
    • The state should invest in reproductive health care, even if it raises your taxes – 57% favor, 37% strongly favor*




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