When you hear news stories about a battle against homosexual rights, don't believe it: a recent Florida study shows that portraying the gay rights conflict as a sharply divided battle between homosexuals and social conservatives ignores the ambivalent feelings held by the vast majority of people in the middle. "The American public appears to be on average both supportive and hostile to homosexual and gay rights, depending on the specific question being asked," says researcher Stephen Craig. "Someone might think that homosexuals should not be discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual orientation but at the same time express the opinion they don't want gays or lesbians teaching impressionable young kids in the schools."
Craig and his team called Florida residents and asked them a list of questions on the rights of homosexual and then rated the responses. The questions were: should homosexuals should be allowed to teach in schools; should same-sex marriages should be recognized as legal; should homosexuals be allowed to serve in the US military; should homosexuals be permitted to adopt children; what homosexuals do in the privacy of their own homes is nobody else’s business; there should be laws to protect homosexuals against discrimination in their jobs; should homosexuals should be allowed to join the Boy Scouts and other youth organizations; and should homosexual couples should be able to obtain family health insurance coverage, the same way other people do.
Nearly three-fourths (74%) of the Floridians surveyed were ambivalent, rather than negative, about at least one of the eight statements, and about one-third (31%) were ambivalent on seven of the eight items. This is especially significant because, although the participants were not asked their age, there are more elderly people in Florida than in most other states, and older people tend to be more conservative about homosexuality, while younger people are much more likely to accept it and consider it genetic, rather than a choice—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 think more favorably of homosexuality and gay rights, perhaps because of shifts in values."