Survey: Kids are being taught critical race theory, ‘radical’ gender concepts in schools

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A vast majority of recent high school graduates reported that they had been taught elements of critical social justice ideology, regardless of what kind of school they attended, a new report from the free-market Manhattan Institute found. The conclusions come despite many school administrators and teachers unions saying such ideologies are not being taught.

Think tank researchers surveyed over 1,500 Americans between the ages of 18 and 20 about their experience learning or hearing about critical race theory and radical gender ideology in class or from adults at school.

The report concludes that students were taught or heard critical race theory or radical gender ideology at school and that hearing the concepts affected the political ideologies of students.

“The findings of this report suggest that the teaching of applied versions of Critical Race Theory and radical gender theory is endemic in American schools,” the report reads. “Ninety-three percent of a random sample of 18-to-20-year-old Americans say that they have been taught, or have heard about from an adult at school, one or more Critical Social Justice (CSJ) concepts.”

The report, titled “School Choice Is Not Enough: The Impact of Critical Social Justice Ideology in American Education,” claims that more than 90% of students had heard at least one concept related to critical race theory such as “white privilege” or “systemic racism” and almost 75% had heard at least one concept about radical gender ideology such as “gender is a choice unrelated to biological sex.”  

Former students were asked about five concepts related to critical race theory, statements like  “America is a systematically racist country,” “In America White people have unconscious biases that negatively affect non-White people,” “America is built on stolen land.” Respondents also were asked about three gender-related concepts such as: “Gender is an identity choice, regardless of the biological sex you were born into” and “America is a patriarchal society.” 

The concepts were prevalent in all types of schooling, the researchers found, with 85% of students having been taught at least one of the eight principles in class regardless of the type of school that they attended. 

Even home-schooled and charter school students reported being taught at least one CSJ term, the survey study found. But students who attended religious private schools or were home-schooled reported lower levels of exposure to the concepts than public school students did. 

The researchers argue the survey results show how the teaching of these concepts may shape students’ political ideologies.

“In partisan terms, those exposed to no CSJ concepts break 27% to 20% for the Republican Party, while those who have been taught the maximum of eight CSJ concepts lean a whopping 53% to 7% toward the Democratic Party,” the report summary reads. “In strongly Republican counties, young people taught no CSJ concepts lean Republican 38% to 20%, whereas in the same counties, those taught the maximum number of CSJ concepts lean Democratic by a stunning 46% to 14%.”

The report also argues that these concepts are not presented as part of a conversation where there are other legitimate views, but rather are introduced as the “only respectable approach” to issues of race and gender.

“Importantly, the degree to which CSJ concepts were taught as truth or as one perspective in a debate does not meaningfully vary by race, political orientation, or high school type,” the report reads. “Whites and non-Whites, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and public and private/parochial school respondents were similarly likely to report being told about respectable counterarguments.”

The researchers conclude: “There is no evidence that this response reflects respondents’ political biases. Instead, the data suggest that majorities in all groups have been given the impression that the concepts they are being taught are beyond reproach.”

The report also claimed that teaching critical race theory concepts “appears to have a harmful effect on young people and damages the very people it purports to help,” citing an increase in the respondents who were taught two or more CSJ concepts reporting fear of speaking about controversial subjects compared to those who were taught none.

Among other recommendations, the authors of the report suggest policy guidance that defines “which concepts (such as systemic racism) are political, and which are held in consensus.”

Brendan Clarey
Brendan Clarey is K-12 editor at Chalkboard Review. Reach him at

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